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" Rosebery's ('predominant partner') speech about convincing 
England in connection with Home Rule was most unfortnate 
and easily answered by Irishmen who might say " : (and 
here he became earnest and very serious) "' How are we 
to convince you ? Is it as we did by the Volunteers, by 
the Tithe War, when Wellington said it was yielding to 
Civil War, or by the Clerkenwell Explosion, which are the 
only means that ever have convinced England ? ' " — 
Gladstone to Sir Algernon West. 



DUBLIN 1923 





Chapter Page 













'13-14) 167 










Chapter Page 




(1917) 316 







JUDGMENT (1918) 385 









When the United Irish League re-established the 
Political Unity broken up for ten years by the Parnell 
Split of 1890, the " miracle " (see page 18) was 
followed up by a movement for a wider National 
Unity, the effects of which are only now beginning 
to be understood. Its aim was the daring one of 
reconciling the two antagonistic hosts of the Land 
War, and combining them for the crowning achieve- 
ment of a National Settlement by consent. 

The inspiring principle of the new movement was 
the healing of animosity between Irishmen of all the 
warring classes and religious persuasions, and, upon 
that basis, an international peace with England. Its 
fundamental axioms were (a) that a solution of the 
Irish Difficulty must first be sought among Irishmen 
in Ireland, and (b) that its legislative enactment must 
be the work, not of one particular English Party, 
Liberal or Unionist, but of all British and Irish Parties 
in common. These are the principles which — received 
at the time with mild contempt by English politicians 
as an Eirenicon, and persecuted by certain powerful 
Irish ones as though they covered some monstrous 
treason against the Irish Nation — have by this time 
found all but universal acceptance in both countries 
and among all Parties in the Act of 1903 for the aboli- 
tion of Landlordism and (although in a mutilated 
shape) in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. Not, 
however, before armed Revolution had to be called 


in to repair, so far as was possible, the tragic mistakes 
of Irish and British politicians during nearly twenty 
ignoble years. 

The era of confessions and of contrition has already 
set in from the British side. One passage from a 
confidential letter of Mr. Lloyd George to the writer 
(dated 14th July, 1919), which Mr. Lloyd George has 
given me permission to publish (see page 416) reveals 
at a flash the secret of the failure in the intermediate 
years and explains the necessity for the present volume : 

" I think you were fundamentally right when you 
sought an agreement amongst all sections, creeds and 
classes of Irishmen. I am afraid settlement is im- 
possible until that has been achieved." 

Here is the mature conclusion of the British Prime 
Minister that the Policy of Conciliation plus Business 
of the AU-for-Ireland League was " fundamentally 
right " from the start, and that its defeat was the defeat 
of everything that mattered for the two countries. 
The confession is all the more interesting because it 
comes from the man who was long the most potent 
British instrument in deriding and thwarting the 
policy to which he now has the courage to do justice. 
And it will be found that even at that late date he had 
only half learned the lesson taught by the Irish 

Another testimony of transcendent interest is that 
of one who, of all the Liberal Cabinet who might have 
carried Home Rule and did not, had least of the party 
politician and most of the far-ranging statesman in his 
composition — Viscount Grey of Fallodon (the Sir 
Edward Grey of the Home Rule debates). Here is 
the fruit of his musings over the Liberal mishandling 
of Home Rule (House of Lords, 24th November, 
1920) : 

" The question I put to myself is this : In the 
years of failure where have we gone wrong ? What 
has been the root-cause of our failure ? . . . I think 


the mistake we made in the beginning was that we did 
not sufficiently realize the absolute necessity of taking 
into consideration the feeling of Ulster." 

Truly, a Daniel come to judgment ! But that 
was only half the mistake — the other and the still 
graver half being that they " did not sufficiently 
realize " the feeling of Ireland for Ulster as bone of 
her bone, and the breath of life of her unity as a Nation. 
The result was that having first refused to woo Ulster 
by " compulsory attraction " they proceeded to their 
opposite extremity of folly by cutting her off from 
Ireland with the slash of a clumsy surgeon's knife. 

The Hibernian politicians, who were the prime 
movers of the mischief which undid the country and 
the Liberals and themselves, have not yet imitated 
the good sense of their British patrons by (as the 
French would say) entering upon the way of avowals 
on their own part. They have, however, ceased to 
count. It is only the evil they have done that lives 
after them. But how completely all the leaders who 
succeeded them as the authorised spokesmen of the 
Irish race since the downfall of the Parliamentarians, 
share and have made their own of the aspirations 
which used to be the special reproach of the All-for- 
Ireland League, two short quotations will sufficiently 
demonstrate. Wrote Mr. Arthur Griffith, the founder 
of Sinn Fein and the first President of the Irish Free 
State : 

" The exclusion of Ulster or any part of Ireland 
would mean for us the nullification of our hopes and 
aspirations for the future Irish Nation. It would 
mean the erection of sharp, permanent, eternal 
dividing-lines between Catholics and Protestants, 
whereas our ideal has been an Irish nation in the 
future made up of a blend of all races, of all classes 
and of all creeds." 

Mr. De Valera himself, the first President of the 
Irish Republic, said to me so late as August 12th, 
1922 (see page 429) : 


" I have been all along in favour of peace with 
England, and at one time could have carried it all 
right, if Lloyd George had placed me in a position 
to offer the young men a measure of National Inde- 
pendence for the whole country on reasonable terms 
of external association. In the London negotiations 
I should have preferred to make our first stand upon 
the Integrity of Ireland, and the inclusion of the Six 
Counties. All the world would have understood our 
stand against Partition and would have been with us, 
and in England's then fix Craig could have been 
certainly brought to consent. ... I was always ready 
to go as far as you went yourself to bring in Ulster by 
friendly means." 

To clinch the matter, President Cosgrave and 
the Chamber of Deputies of the Irish Free State, 
while these sheets are passing through the Press, 
have invited the whole four of the representatives of 
the Land-owners at the Land Conference of 1902-3 
— -the Earl of Dunraven, the Earl of Mayo, Col. 
(now Sir) W. Hutcheson Poe, and Col. (now Sir) 
Nugent Everard — to accept seats in the new Senate, 
and have acclaimed Mr. T. M. Healy as their first 
Governor General, thus singling out for honour in 
the eyes of posterity the Conciliationists who for the 
previous fifteen years were covered with opprobrium 
as " swindling landlords " or traitors to Home Rule. 

How came it to pass that the policy which all the 
weightiest of the elder statesmen of Britain and the 
two most considerable personages of the Irish Revolu- 
tion are thus united in pronouncing to have been 
elementary wisdom, had to struggle for a bare hearing 
throughout a fifteen-years' losing battle ? By what 
arts were a people of keen political intelligence like 
the Irish hypnotised into silence while they were 
being led into an opposite policy which it is now hard 
to distinguish from insanity and which was to bring 
them nothing but six years of unspeakable anguish and 


a prodigal waste of their best blood and treasure ? 
How did it happen that those who, with an all but 
unanimous mandate from their country and from the 
Parliamentary Party, had succeeded in restoring four- 
fifths of the soil of Ireland to the people, and were 
proceeding to incorporate a million of Irish Protestants 
with our nation by their free consent, were actually 
arraigned as though these were the crimes of traitors ? 
Above all, how came it that those who, themselves 
confessing they were rebelling against the policy which 
received from the country " an absolutely overwhelming 
vote of confidence "(see page 17) rose up to frustrate 
these great enterprises and to alarm and alienate that 
powerful minority of our countrymen by the establish- 
ment of a pseudo-Catholic Hibernian ascendancy 
leading to no alternative except the Partition of 
Ireland, to which they became themselves consenting 
parties — how came it that the mutineers were for a 
long course of years glorified as the anointed apostles 
of " Majority Rule " and the heroes of National 
Unity ? These are amongst the enigmas to which the 
present volume is designed to supply the answers. 
Not the least strange part of the story is that this 
is the first time when the truth will have a dog's chance 
of coming to the knowledge of the masses of the nation 
it most vitally concerns. Such is the completeness 
with which the facts have hitherto been travestied 
beyond all verisimilitude, it may be safely affirmed 
that there are comparatively few in Ireland and scarcely 
a handful in Britain, who can yet see in their true 
perspective the long train of events which brought a 
degenerate Parliamentarianism to its doom, and 
necessitated and justified the Irish Revolution of 
191 6-2 1. The time has come when the attempt can 
be made at all events without unworthy heat, to 
imitate the triennial custom of the ancient Parliament 
of Tara and " to purge our contemporary annals of 
all false and spurious relations." He that is but flesh 


cannot always hope to preserve a spirit of heavenly 
detachment while he brings to light the system of 
suppression and persecution from which his friends 
and himself suffered during a considerable space of 
their lives, without any hope of redress or even of an 
honest hearing. But the protagonists on all sides 
have by this time passed from the arena of Irish public 
life. For the personal part of the injury, events have 
already made generous atonement to ourselves. No 
tongue, however unclean — no pen, however obscure — 
is likely henceforth to repeat the accusations which, to 
the ruin of the country and of our accusers, bewildered 
the older generation now passing to its account. 
Nobody of sense will repine if sic vos non vobis melli- 
ficatis, apes is the decree of Fate for all the pioneers ; 
what matters is that the honey should be hived if it 
were only to give to the life of this poor world some 
taste of sweetness. The young Harmodiuses of the 
Revolution are, doubtless, still easier in their minds 
as to their own part of the vilification and of the 
vindication. But these, after all, are matters of stern 
historic truth. What remains is that the coming 
men with whom must lie the making or marring of the 
nation their valour has called into being should not 
grow up in piteous ignorance of the deceit which, for 
their predecessors, placed the events of the early 
twentieth century in a light so grotesquely the reverse 
of the truth that the falsification might well pass for 
some Satanic practical joke at the expense of a whole 
people. The primary appeal of this book is to the 
increasing company of scholars, thinkers, and students 
for whom the truthfulness of her History is the most 
sacred charge of a nation. They have only — it is 
submitted with some confidence — to scrutinise the 
facts and documents herein presented, to be in a 
position to furnish the youth who will be the architects 
of our future with the means of demolishing for them- 
selves the edifice of topsy-turvy falsehood which has 


hitherto been accepted as our contemporary history, 
but which will be found to crumble at the first touch 
of honest investigation. Assuredly it shall be the 
fault of the writer, if the narrative do not prove to be 
one of fascinating human interest, as well as paying 
a long overdue debt of truth and justice to the History 
of our times. 

The suggestion of an Inter-Party Home Rule 
Settlement was first broached by Gladstone after the 
General Election of 1886 had placed Lord Salisbury 
in power. For their own sake, as well as Ireland's, 
wo's the day the Liberal Party were not wise enough 
to follow the counsel of their greatest leader during 
their own long spell of power from 1906 to 19 14 ! 
It has been the hard fate of the Liberal Party that they 
who were generally the first to sow the seeds of great 
Irish measures were rarely able themselves to gather 
the harvest. It was the Liberal Party who dises- 
tablished the Irish Church in 1868 and essayed the 
first considerable reform of the Irish Land Laws in 
1 88 1, but it was only the Tory Party who could have 
ended the Agrarian War by abolishing Feudal Land- 
lordism root-and-branch, and it was only a combination 
of the two Parties which could have beguiled England 
into submitting to the Irish Free State Treaty of 1921. 
For Irish Nationalists, at all events, the lesson of 
wisdom in our dealings with English Parties ought to 
have been burned sufficiently deep into our hearts 
and it was this : Take all you can get from the com- 
petition of Tories and Liberals, but enslave yourselves 
neither to the one English Party nor to the other, and, 
above all aim at the combination of them both — whether 
inspired by lofty British statesmanship or by more 
earthy motives — if you want to ensure legislative 
sanction to a scheme of National Independence — 
cautious and gradual, it may be, but unfettered in 
its force of expansion and broad-based upon a good 
understanding between the Nationalist majority and 
the Unionist minority at home in Ireland. 


The new movement began with an achievement 
not less splendid, and at the time immeasurably more 
surprising than the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, 
which, indeed, its chief Sinn Fein signatory, as will 
be seen, freely confessed, the work of his predecessors 
alone could have made possible. In one respect, 
more splendid still, for it was the work of a United, 
not of a Partitioned Ireland. The declaration of the 
Tory Chief Secretary (Mr. George Wyndham) but 
for which the Land Conference of 1902-3 could never 
have been assembled pronounced the bankruptcy of 
English Rule twenty years before it was formally 
acknowledged by the Imperial Parliament. Here 
were Wyndham's momentous words : " No Govern- 
ment can settle the Irish land question. It must be 
settled by the parties interested. The extent of useful 
action on the part of any Government is limited to 
providing facilities, in so far as that may be possible, 
for giving effect to any settlement arrived at by the 

It was the germ of National Self-Determination 
thirteen years before President Wilson's Fourteen 
Points. The admission and the undertaking pointed 
the way by which Landlordism was bloodlessly ex- 
tinguished, and by which, had the fates been kind, 
English rule might have been extinguished no less 
bloodlessly. Four representatives commissioned by 
the Irish Parliamentary Party (Mr. John E. Redmond, 
Mr. T. C. Harrington, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mrj 
T. W. Russell and myself) and four representatives of 
the Irish Unionists elected ad hoc (the Earl of Dun- 
raven, the Earl of Mayo, Col. afterwards Sir William 
Hutcheson Poe, and Col. afterwards Sir Everard 
Nugent, His Majesty's Lieutenant for Meath), met in 
the Dublin Mansion House, and in the course of five 
sittings effected a settlement of the Irish Land War 
which had raged without intermission for more than 
a century, and, notwithstanding more than forty 


Abortive Acts of the British Parliament to assuage it, 
was raging more furiously than ever when the Land 
Conference of 1902-3 assembled for its apparently 
desperate task. 

Incredible as the happy outcome was for the 
cynics, the conditions of the moment were extra- 
ordinarily propitious. The Tories were in power and 
enjoyed the more or less rueful co-operation of the 
Liberals in Irish affairs. George Wyndham, the 
Chief Secretary, inherited the vision and the romance 
of his great-grandfather Lord Edward Fitzgerald, to 
whom he bore a singular resemblance, in captivating 
address as well as in physical beauty. In deference 
to the diseased suspiciousness which is apt to poison 
all Irish controversies, I never personally exchanged 
a word (or except on one occasion, even a letter) with 
the man with the greatest work of whose life circum- 
stances gave me a closer association than, perhaps, 
fell to the fate of any other Irishman ; x but if all who 
knew him are not in a conspiracy of untruth, his 
inmost sympathies would have impelled him to go as 
far in the direction of the most glowing aspirations of 
Ireland as Irishmen would let him ; and he had a 
Lord Lieutenant (the Earl of Dudley) and an Under 
Secretary (Sir Antony Mac Donnell) no less sympa- 
thetic, if less passionate, than himself. When King 
Edward the Peacemaker, on the day when the House 
of Commons was passing the final stage of Wyndham's 
Bill for the expropriation of Landlordism, was making 

' Wyndham's own Irish instinct led him to be equally cautious. 
In the only letter that ever passed between us he wrote (April 14, 
1908) : 

" I have felt that the conditions of Irish political controversy 
precluded me from communicating with you. I have regretted 
this. For I have often wished to express to you personally, and 
to express in public, my sense of the loyal — I would say chivalrous 
— manner in which you stuck to the sp'rit, as well as the letter, 
of the agreement between classes and parties on the Land Question 
which alone made the Act of 1903 possible." 


his triumphal progress through a Dublin delirious 
with joy (of how many ages ago we seem to be writing !) 
he as justly as tactfully picked out the handsome young 
Chief Secretary to sit with him and the queen in his 
carriage as the real hero of achievements in Ireland 
which were bound to go a good deal further. 

If ever there was an United Ireland it was that 
which at one stroke and for ever put an end to the 
Land War — an infinitely deeper dividing-line between 
Irishmen than Home Rule, because it was a question 
of their very existence for tenants and landlords alike — 
and put an end to it by the co-operation of the warring 
classes themselves, and upon terms which have stood 
the test of satisfying both sides equally well. The 
Protestant and Presbyterian farmers who form the 
bulk of the Unionist inhabitants of Ulster — at all 
times as determined foes of Landlordism as the 
Catholics of the South — found themselves the owners 
in fee of their own lands and homesteads, and that 
through the direct agency of those whom they had 
been brought up to regard as the most extreme of the 
Nationalist leaders. The Unionist landlords them- 
selves — again, thanks to that co-operation of the 
fiercest of their old Nationalist antagonists " which 
alone made the Act of 1903 possible " — became the 
happy possessors of an income as safe as the Bank of 
England, in lieu of one that had to be every year 
fought for by hateful and costly eviction campaigns, 
when it was not being hacked to pieces by Judicial 
Rent Commissioners or legislators at Westminster. 
The most influential of the Irish nobles and country 
gentlemen who, later on, did not stop short of pro- 
claiming their adhesion to the National Independence 
of Sinn Fein were, even already, eager to follow Lord 
Dunraven in continuing the work of the Land Con- 
ference by a Home Rule Settlement conceived in the 
same spirit which had already given them the status 
of honoured citizenship in the pleasantest country 


in the world. Mr. Redmond and myself had actually 
to interfere, not to stimulate but to moderate their 
pace, lest it should be charged that their "surrender " 
to Home Rule was their price for the handsome terms 
the Land Conference settlement was to yield to them. 
The apprehensions and the religious rancour 
which, five or six years afterwards, were to constitute 
the Ulster Difficulty the most formidable of all 
stumbling-blocks to the unity and freedom of Ireland, 
had at that time no existence outside the most arriiri 
quarters of Belfast and the surrounding towns. Even 
there a new spirit was arising. Lord Dun raven and 
Captain Shawe-Taylor received a sympathetic welcome 
in the city where " six special trainsful of troops " 
could not in later days protect Mr. Winston Churchill 
from being obliged to fly for his life. They were heard 
without an interruption in the Ulster Hall, the future 
headquarters of the Provisional Government of the 
Covenanters. The Loyal Orange Institution itself 
was undergoing an internal reform, not to say revolu- 
tion, which has strangely escaped the notice it deserved. 
An Independent Orange Order was established whose 
watchword — " Irishmen first of all ! " — was its sufficient 
programme. The new Order came to a pitch of power 
at which it was able to organise vast rival processions 
of its own on " the Belfast Anniversaries." One of 
its leaders was Mr. Tom Sloane, who, as a Democrat, 
had won a seat in Parliament for Belfast, without the 
leave of the local Tory panjandrums, and com- 
manded an enormous influence with the Protestant 
populace of that city as a religious zealot by his Sunday 
revivalist preachments from " the Custom-house 
steps." That I was paving the way for some traitorous 
" scratch alliance with Tom Sloane " (with whom, as it 
happened, I had never had the good fortune to ex- 
change a word) came to be positively one of the most 
heinous of the charges thundered out against me by 
Mr. Dillon in his rabble-rousing days. The new 


Order had produced a young leader of vastly greater 
capacity in Mr. Lindsay Crawford, who had inherited 
the finest of the National and tolerant traditions of the 
United Irishmen of the older day when Belfast was 
a fiery furnace of Irish revolutionary thought. 
Mournful to relate, it was the fate of Mr. Lindsay 
Crawford, as it was Wyndham's, to be compelled to 
quit the country, less by the foice of Orange fanati- 
cism than of Hibernian intrigue. He had to take 
refuge in Canada, where he carved out for himself a 
position of considerable distinction, and true to the 
last to the Independent Orange watchword, " Irish- 
men first of all ! " is, at this writing, President of 
the Irish Self-Determination League of that great 

Lastly, be it remarked, Sir E. Carson — the only 
leader with the genius and daring that could have 
made Orangeism a power of the first political magni- 
tude — had probably up to that time never set his foot 
within the Ulster border. He was a rather efface 
English Solicitor-General, who, it is curiously for- 
gotten, prophesied ruin and bankruptcy as a result of 
Wyndham's Purchase Act in as sepulchral terms as 
Mr. Dillon himself, and assuredly had then as little 
thought of becoming the ringleader of an Ulster 
Rebellion as of snatching the King's Crown off his 
Majesty's head and assuming it himself. 

On the other hand, the Parliamentary Party and 
the Nationalist masses were as nearly unanimous as 
it is given to thinking men to be. Mr. Devlin had 
not yet emerged from the obscurity of his Debating 
Society on the Falls Road in Belfast and was little 
known outside save for a bitter local quarrel with his 
Bishop. The Secret Society of the Hibernian " Board 
of Erin " of which he became in after years the master 
and which in turn he caused to overmaster and absorb 
the public organisation of the United Irish League, 
had not yet gained a footing save in one or two corners 


of the North, and was too insignificant to make any 
appeal to his ambitions. Singularly enough, the 
Hibernians who gradually assumed the function of 
accredited apostles of Catholicity and admitted no 
catechumen to the Order who did not make profession 
of the Catholic faith and pledge himself to frequent 
the Catholic sacraments, were themselves at the time 
we are speaking of under the ban of ecclesiastical 
censures and threats of excommunication. We were 
still far from the days when the Board of Erin erected 
far and wide a self-styled Catholic ascendanc) 
which did more than all other causes to work up 
Protestant Ulster into an irreconcileable aversion to 
Home Rule. Nor did " the extreme men " present 
the slightest obstacle. It was not until two years later 
that Arthur Griffith was able to form the group of 
earnest young believers in his teachings into an almost 
unnoticed Sinn Fein organisation. They were not 
revolutionists but evolutionists. They were to the 
full as " constitutional " in their aims as the Parlia- 
mentary Party, and would never have developed to 
anything more dangerous than a Platonic aspiration 
for super-Parliamentary methods had not " the Party " 
fallen from one depth to a deeper of inefficiency and 
self-seeking. The Republicans had no vocal or 
organised existence at all. The youth of the country 
still found satisfaction for their most ardent aspirations 
in the triumphs of a Parnell movement conducted in 
the Parnell spirit and the most thrilling of those 
triumphs had only just been gained. They would 
have abhorred, if they could have conceived, the 
doctrines of religious disability which subsequently 
proposed to exclude the co-religionists of Parnell from 
equal participation in the tasks of Irish patriotism. 

The trouble came, not from the bottom, but from 
the top. The more conscientiously the records of 
the time are searched, the clearer, I believe, must 
be the conclusion that, were it not for the revolt of 


three or four leading Irish politicians against the 
" absolutely overwhelming " determination of the 
country (the words are Mr. Dillon's own), a Home 
Rule Settlement by consent must have been devised 
and passed into law with little more difficulty than the 
Land Conference Settlement, and with effects upon 
the stability and strength of our nation, and upon the 
ordered expansion of her liberties, for which, it is to 
be feared, children yet unborn will sigh in vain. 

Here were all the materials (including the endorse- 
ment of 82 out of the 83 members who then composed 
the Irish Parliamentary Party) for an amalgamation 
of all the racial and denominational elements of the 
Irish Nation such as must have irresistibly effected 
its purpose without a trace of the hideous sectarian 
passions and political demoralization which were to 
disgrace the succeeding years — without the shedding 
of the smallest rivulet of the blood with which the 
country was to be drenched during the prolonged 
revolutionary war which was required in order to 
work out a remedy — must have effected a settlement, 
too, upon terms of moderation which can scarcely 
be recalled without a remorseful pang by the Prime 
Minister who was to welcome the chiefs of the Irish 
Republican Army to Downing Street upon practically 
their own terms. 

How these propitious omens were cast to the winds 
and Parliamentary methods finally abandoned for the 
ruder ones of Revolution, it shall be the business of 
these pages to endeavour to make clear. In order to 
make all that is to follow comprehensible, let us first 
dispel the darkness in which one of the most funda- 
mental realities of the case has hitherto been artfully 
enwrapped. The favourite device for deadening 
public interest in what was going on was the hardi- 
hood with which it was pretended there was no real 
difference in public policy between those who ad- 
vocated the Policv of Conference and Conciliation and 


its remorseless antagonists — nothing better worth 
serious public attention than the personal rivalries of 
politicians. Inasmuch as the bulk of the public was 
deprived of all means of listening to or reading our 
answer, the deceit was never fully found out until the 
final thunder crash, which did indeed awaken the 
Irish people from their infatuation sharply enough, 
but only to discover that the worst had already 
happened. It will be convenient to begin by giving 
the reader a birdseye view of those differences from 
which it may be judged how deeply the division cut 
into the most vital interests of the nation — how true 
it was that the chasm between the two policies was so 
profound and fateful as to make all the difference 
between a bloodless triumph for an United Ireland 
and the degradation and annihilation of the Parlia- 
mentary movement and the Partition of the country. 
And perhaps the bitterest drop of the water of gall 
which the nation was given to drink was that the 
Revolution was not the work of the Revolutionists but 
of those who were careful to describe themselves as 
" Constitutionalists." 


The root-difference was this : That, once the 
Abolition of Landlordism brought the main cause of 
class antagonism to an end, we saw the surest hope of 
the country's freedom in a combination of the most 
enlightened men of all its parties, creeds and schools 

of thought our assailants, in the undivided 

authority and supremacy of the Irish Parliamentary 
Party and in that alone ; we, in inviting and cherishing 

the united aid of all British Parties they, in making 

the Irish Cause the appanage and monopoly of one 
particular British Party, the Liberal Party. 

We looked for the extension of the Land Con- 
erence Agreement to a Home Rule Agreement as its 


natural sequel they persuaded themselves that the 

Land Conference Agreement, by reason of its very 
success, must lead to the destruction of the National 
Movement by divorcing a race of selfish peasant- 
proprietors from politics, and in that belief applied 
themselves to obstruct and frustrate the Agrarian 
Settlement itself, as a National misfortune, and to 
denounce as treason any extension of the Land Con- 
ference accord. 1 


We held with Parnell to independence of all British 
Parties as a first principle, while always ready to 
reciprocate good will on the part of either or both of 

them our critics, in a fatal hour, accepted salaries 

and an enormous mass of patronage from the Liberal 
Government of Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George, 
thus enfeoffing themselves to that special band of 
British politicians, and committing themselves to 
follow their fortunes, even to the extent of joining 
them in the Partition of their country. 


The delusion was successfully propagated in 
Ireland and in England that Mr. Dillon represented 
the principles of " Unity " and " Majority Rule," of 
which those of us who stood fast by the Land Con- 
ference Policy of Conciliation plus Business were the 
violators. The truth is directly the reverse. No- 
body who investigates the facts can by any possibility 

1 The three distinguished Irishmen (only one of them a member 
of the Irish Party) who " launched a determined campaign " 
against the Policy of Conciliation, were not members of the Land 
Conference, owing to a mischance for which no member of the 
Conference was in the remotest degree responsible. It is 
impossible to imagine that, had they shared in its councils, they 
should ever have fallen victims to their infatuated misjudgment 
of its real objects and possibilities. 


dispute that it was the self-constituted defenders of 
" Unity " and " Majority Rule " who themselves 
defied these principles and destroyed them. The 
Land Conference Policy was ratified by the entire 
body of the Irish Parliamentary Party, with the solitary 
exception of Mr. Dillon, and was adopted as the 
authorised National Policy " with substantial unani- 
mity " (as the Freeman itself confessed) by the 
sovereign authority of the National Convention (from 
which Mr. Dillon of set design absented himself). 
In his first overt proposal for the repudiation of that 
Policy he could not find a seconder at the meeting of 
the Party. The only two men of consequence who 
joined in his " determined campaign " at the outset 
were Mr. Davitt, whose attitude as a fanatical Land 
Nationalizer every body made allowance for, and Mr. 
Sexton who had seven years previously withdrawn 
from the Party and from public life in a mood of 
disappointment and despair, and had only obtained 
his appointment as Business Director of the Freeman's 
Journal on an express public pledge that he would not 
interfere with the faithful support of the policy of the 
Irish Party in its pages. These gentlemen will not 
think of contesting that during more than six months, 
they carried on with the tremendous assistance of the 
Party's own official organ a bitter daily campaign with 
the avowed object of wrecking the Land Conference 
Settlement on grounds which are now universally 
acknowledged to have been wrong-headed and even 
childish — in open defiance of every representative 
authority in the Party and in the country, and in 
flagrant violation of those principles of " Unity " and 
" Majority Rule " in virtue of which they subsequently 
had the effrontery to claim the allegiance of the 
country. No sharper condemnation of Mr. Dillon's 
revolt could well be penned than his own admission 
in the last letter which to my keen regret was ever to 
pass between us : (nth February, 1903) : " Redmond 


Harrington and you are at all events in a position to say 
that you have received from the country an absolutely 
overwhelming vote of confidence so far as your Con- 
ference proceedings go." 


After the war upon those who had " received from 
the country an absolutely overwhelming vote of 
confidence " had gone on throughout the summer and 
autumn of 1903, while our plans were being laid for 
an experimental test of the new Purchase Act, I took 
a step about which doubtless controversy will long 
rage whether it was a weak surrender of an unassail- 
able position, or a patriotic self-effacement as the 
only means of making a renewal of the horrors of 
the Parnell Split impossible. It was in any case 
an act of self-renunciation such as was never made 
before, and assuredly will never be made again by 
any Irish leader who studies how he who made it 
was rewarded. In November, 1903, I resigned my 
seat in Parliament and on the Directory of the 
United Irish League, which I had founded to put 
and end to the disunion caused by the Parnell Split 
and which for more than two years I had to carry 
on my own all but unassisted shoulders, 1 and in order 

1 This is the subject referred to in a letter dated December 29, 
1920, from one whose judgment ought to carry more weight with 
Mr. Dillon than that of any other living man. Referring to the 
author's book, Evening Memories, which he characterises as a 
" wonderful and most fascinating book," the writer adds : 

i; It is, of course, quite beyond my knowledge and my capacity 
to criticise such a book. But one thing, I must say, I can't forgive 
in it, and that is the way in which one of the most astounding 
achievements of one man in history is merely referred to in a 
very few words as ' a miracle.' Saints can afford to make little 
of their miracles, but politicians should not — far less, writers of 
history. I allude, of course, to the most wonderful rescue of 
Ireland from eight years of unspeakable discord. Why, I find 
it is not even called a miracle, and the men who did not do it are 
referred to, not the man who did do it ! " 


to put an end to the last danger of perpetuating public 
controversy, I at the same time suppressed my own 
newspaper, The Irish People. 

This step naturally created consternation among 
a public from whom I had up to the last moment 
striven to conceal the intolerable difficulties that were 
accumulating upon me, and who only saw (as Mr. 
Dillon confessed) that the country was " over- 
whelmingly " with me. Long after they had fallen 
under the control of Mr. Dillon, members of the 
Irish Party told me (what I very well knew) that, up 
to the moment of my resignation, the Party, all but 
an unimportant group, would have supported Mr. 
Redmond and myself in resolutely putting down the 
mutiny, if they had only known. They pathetically 
reproached me with having left them, like sheep 
without a shepherd, to fall a prey to the first comer. 
It was never doubtful that, had I chosen to distract the 
country with an open exposure of the conspiracy that 
was in progress, and met with and fought it outright, 
I could have spoken for ninetenths of the Nationalists 
of Ireland and of the Parliamentary Party (including 
their leader) in the conflict that must have followed. 
But, conflict there must have been, a fierce and un- 
forgetable one, with its conquerors and conquered, 
and that was the whole question for one filled with 
abhorrence of the dissensions of the Parnell Split, 
the wounds from which were only just half-healing. 

Those who, without a more intimate knowledge 
of what was going on, condemned my retirement as 
the principal mistake of my life (as, if it were only the 
tactics of a politician with an eye on his own future, 
it most obviously would be) forgot that the minority, 
numerically small though it was, included three dis- 
tinguished Irishmen, enjoying a well-deserved popu- 
larity as patriots and a reputation for wisdom in the 
matter of Finance which events proved was not so 
well deserved. Reduced to silence, as they must 


undoubtedly have been, it could only have been by a 
public exposure which would not quite get rid of an 
uneasy suspicion that they had suffered merely for an 
uncompromising hatred of Landlordism which was 
the most pardonable of crimes in Irish eyes, and the 
advantage sure to be taken of our intestine differences 
by unscrupulous landlords would dangerously com- 
promise our plans for an equitable test of the Act, if 
not occasion its breakdown altogether. There was a 
fourth Irishman of more eminence still, under whose 
countenance their campaign against the Act would 
have been at that moment consecrated. The Arch- 
bishop of Dublin, Dr. Walsh — next to the famous 
Archbishop of Cashel Dr. Croke, the most potent 
patriot Churchman of his generation — had unhappily 
conceived the conviction that the Finances of the Act 
would prove unworkable, owing to his doubt that the 
Treasury could ever be got to consent to the Imperial 
Bonus on which the whole Land Conference scheme 
hinged. As soon as His Grace found that his 
apprehensions were unfounded and that the Imperial 
Bonus was forthcoming, he retired altogether from 
the controversy (as did also Michael Davitt long befors 
his death) and in after years His Grace was one of the 
decisive factors in the overthrow of the degenerate 
Irish Party. 1 Dr. Walsh's initial doubts however 

1 It was never my privilege to meet Archbishop Walsh again, 
but shortly after his death I received a letter (dated April 26, 1921) 
from his Private Secretary (Rev. Fr. Patrick J. Walsh) which is 
highly relevant to the point we are discussing as a proof that 
His Grace's misunderstanding of the Act of 1903 had long been 
dismissed from his mind. It is quoted also to gratify a human 
feeling which, in the circumstances, may not be altogether 
unpardonable as evidence that he was never a party to the virulent 
misrepresentations subsequently heaped upon my name, and 
looked back with pleasure unalloyed upon " the memories of 
happier days " recorded in my book : 

" There is a slight matter in connection with the late 
Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Walsh, about which I think I ought 
to write to you. It concerns your latest volume, Evening 


were at the moment a grievous addition to the 
difficulties of repressing the growing mutiny in our 
camp. The illness of Mr. Redmond's son and his 
own indolent habits of business, as well as the internal 
malady which was already undermining Lord Mayor 
Harrington's iron constitution, deprived me largely 
of their assistance in working out the plan of test cases 
resolved upon by the National Directory of the League. 
We were furthermore handicapped by the danger of 
explaining in public to the country our own con- 
fidential machinery for testing the Act, for fear of 
giving the insatiable section of the landlords a weapon 
against the tenants, while Mr. Dillon was free to 
incite the Convention in his own constituency to open 
repudiation of the plans of the Directory and Mr. 
Sexton was daily demonstrating in the Freeman — 
the recognised official organ, be it remembered, of the 
Party — that the Act demanded ruinous prices and 
that the tenants had only to boycott it altogether to 
obtain the land at 13! years' purchase. The Freeman 
was meanwhile debauching public opinion by all the 
subtle arts of exaggeration or suppression within the 
power of a daily newspaper, displaying under scare 
headings the carefully organised resolutions which 

Memories. This book was the last which His Grace read through 
before leaving here (Archbishop's House) for the Nursing Home 
in which he died a couple of weeks ago. 

" For years it was the Archbishop's custom, when leaving his 
study at night to retire to his bedroom, to bring with him some 
book of interest which he would read before going to sleep. 
The evening that Evening Memories arrived, he brought the volume 
to his bedroom, and indeed to bed with him, and he found it so 
deeply interesting that he was unable to lay it down till the small 
hours of the morning. It brought back to him, very vividly, 
memories of happier days. The next night he took up the book 
again, determined that he would give up reading at a seasonable 
hour and go to sleep. But again, he was so excited and interested 
by the thrilling pages, that sleep was unduly curtailed. 

" Accordingly, he had the volume brought down from his 
bedroom to the study, where he finished the reading of it." 


were hawked about to the local representative Boards, 
assailing the National Policy under the plausible 
shelter of votes of thanks to Mr. Dillon and Mr. 
Davitt for their speeches, and ruthlessly mutilating 
such speeches of the members of Parliament deputed 
to the local Conventions as might have supplied 
adequate answers. While this demoralising process 
went on unchecked for months, the necessary silence 
of Mr. Redmond, Mr. Harrington and myself seemed 
to let judgment go against us by default. 

But what is quite certain is that my withdrawal 
would never have been thought of, had Mr. Redmond 
been at the time in a position to exercise his authority 
as leader in a crisis in which his judgment and mine 
as to the highest interests of the nation were absolutely 
at one. By a woeful mischance, he was disabled 
at that very moment by private embarrassments 
arising out of the clamour set going against him in the 
Freeman on the report that he was demanding 24J 
years' purchase for his own estate in Wexford. The 
allegation was, save for the price of one specially 
circumstanced farm, a cruelly slanderous one, but it 
contained that small modicum of truth which was 
grasped at by unscrupulous landlords as an excuse for 
demanding 24 J years' purchase — your own leader's 
price," and it created such an alarm and even panic 
in the country as paralyzed Mr. Redmond's liberty 
of action and endangered his continuance in the 
leadership. Preparations were actually in progress 
to refuse him a hearing on his visit to Limerick. I 
did not act without frank and constant communication 
of my views to Mr. Redmond. Thrice over I wrote 
urgent letters which were in after years published, 
impressing upon him how fast the infection was 
spreading in the Party and in the country ; that it 
had not yet got so far that it would not promptly 
disappear if he would in the temperate and measured 
language of which he was a master apprise the country 


that the National Policy again and again ratified by a 
practically unanimous Party and National Convention 
was in danger ; but that failing such a pronounce- 
ment from the only leader with authority to issue it, 
it would be no longer possible for me to undergo the 
insupportable strain upon my health and upon a tem- 
perament perhaps ultra-sensitive when the wounds 
came from those of our own household, of being 
compelled to stand silently by while the fruit of our 
labours was slowly rotting under our eyes ; and that 
my withdrawal altogether from the scene would be the 
only other means left of warning the country of the 
danger and of recalling the organizers of dissension 
to their senses. I ventured upon the prediction, 
which was promptly justified by events that my with- 
drawal would rally our assailants in a panic-stricken 
alarm to his support, and assured him of my own 
undiminished sympathy and good will in whatever 
course his new advisers might be prepared to re- 
commend. His letters in reply were full of the 
friendliest and most anxious remonstrance and en- 
treaty not to withdraw from the scene ; but as to the 
practical matters at issue he only pleaded that the 
farmers would pay no heed to the advice of the Freeman 
and that those responsible for the trouble would soon 
disappear from the country altogether : in a word, he 
was plainly intimidated, and would let the emergency 
take care of itself. 

Mr. Dillon and the Freeman verified my anticipa- 
tions by eager and violent protestations of their loyalty 
to Mr. Redmond against whom they had just been 
organising a Holy War in the Freeman ; but Mr. 
Dillon verified also the anticipations of Mr. Redmond 
as to his moral courage. Criticism when in opposition 
can only be justified by efficiency when in power. 
Far from being ready with any constructive plans of 
his own, when my retirement left him master of the 
situation, Mr. Dillon quitted the country in a panic, 


leaving the Party derelict, dismantling our ma- 
chinery for working the Act and throwing the farmers 
into a state of chaotic disorganisation, and he did not 
return to Ireland until after I had been prevailed upon 
to come back to their rescue. He returned then only 
to raise against me the incredibly base war-cry ot 
" Unity ! ,y and " Majority Rule ! " with a temporary 
success as an electioneering trick, but a success which 
was to lead to the ultimate extinction of " the Party " 
and the destruction of Home Rule. 

More contemptible still, if that were possible, was 
his imputation that it was all an affair of jealous 
competition on my part with Mr. Redmond for the 
leadership. The truth happens to be — and nobody 
had more cogent reason for knowing it than Mr. 
Dillon who set the calumny going — that Mr. 
Redmond pressed me earnestly to accept the 
Leadership of the Party when Parnell had offered 
it to me as the condition of his retirement in 1891, 
and that it was in favour of Mr. Dillon himself I 
rejected the proffer. Apart from any question of 
taste, that the insinuation should come from him, of 
all men, Mr. Dillon was listening when at meetings of 
the Party Mr. Redmond declared again and again that 
he was unreservedly in agreement with me in every 
particular up to the date of my withdrawal from public 
life, and wholly shared my belief in the National 
Poiicy for which he was every whit as responsible as 
I. Even in one of his public speeches, after my 
withdrawal, Mr. Redmond paid me the somewhat 
exaggerated compliment of saying that " but for Mr. 
William O'Brien there would have been no Land 
Conference and no Land Act." Some indication of 
the uninterrupted cordiality of our personal relations 
may be gathered from the fact that, four months 
after my retirement from Parliament, it was to me he 
turned for advice in the subjoined letter, when the 
men who had driven me out had no counsels to give 
him except those of sheer destructiveness. 


" House of Commons, 23 — 3 — 1904. 

" My dear O'Brien, — Notwithstanding all that has 
occurred, and our difference on the subject of your 
resignation, I am certain you are as anxious as ever to 
aid me in my difficult position. You could not do so 
more effectively than by giving me your views on the 
situation, in view of the coming Convention. Is there 
any practical way in which we can again close up our 
ranks by inducing you to rejoin the Party ? I assure 
you I feel the position keenly and am fully alive to its 
dangers. Would any sort of private conference be 
of use ? I hope your health is good. I need not say 
this note comes from myself alone. Very truly yours, 

John E. Redmond." 

" From myself alone " — be it observed, without 
this time asking the leave of the new Hibernian turnkeys 
who had taken him under their protection. In my 
reply, full of heartfelt sympathy for Mr. Redmond's 
difficulties, I concluded : 

" My own fixed belief is that so long as Dillon and 
Sexton continue in their present temper, no brave 
National programme requiring the loyal co-operation 
of responsible and patriotic men will have the ghost 
of a chance of succeeding during our generation. 
The first step towards any remedy for the situation 
is that they should be brought to realize the country's 
sense of the immeasurable mischief they have wrought 
in destroying what will yet be recognised as the most 
glorious opportunity Ireland ever had for winning 
peace and freedom with the assent of all English and 
Irish parties. The excitement of a General Election 
and a change of Ministry will, no doubt, blind many 
unthinking people for a time, but a few years will 
bring the inevitable desillusionnement and break up." 

All this notwithstanding, the trick of shouting 
" Unity " and " Majority Rule " and " a plot against 
our trusted leader," succeeded in diverting attention 


both in Ireland and in England from the vital issues at 
stake and for many years the men who never swerved 
an inch from the National Policy in which they only 
obeyed the mandate of every representative authority 
in the country, were merrily hounded down as the 
destroyers of National Unity by the very men who had 
succeeded in acquiring the control of the Party and of 
its leader by impudently trampling that principle 
under foot. The columbae were censured as factionists 
and traitors, and the corvi received the applause of the 
unfortunate nation for their clamourous cawings of 
" Unity ! " and " Majority Rule ! " 

The student will find the narrative of the revolt 
against the National Policy of Conciliation plus Busi- 
ness (comprising the whole period from 1903 to 1910) 
and also of the circumstances under which I was 
compelled to return to Parliament under the 
affectionate coercion of a constituency faithful 
beyond any I have ever heard or read of, set forth 
in full detail in An Olive-Branch in Ireland and its 
History. (Macmillan, 1910). 

The truthfulness of the record has never been 
impeached in a single particular and may, therefore, 
now be regarded as settled history. 

Before passing from this part of the narrative, let 
us finish with another fiction which has almost become 
classic. It is a dogma with all pious believers, Liberal 
and Hibernian, that it was the Ulster Orange members, 
and not the Irish Party, v>ho drove George Wyndham 
out of the Irish Secretaryship. The legend is an 
impudent falsification of the facts. The expulsion 
of Wyndham from the Irish Office before his benign 
work was half completed was the first exploit of the 
new masters of the Irish Party, and it was only the 
preliminary to their next achievement, which was to 
repeal his great Purchase Act of 1903. It was Mr. 
Dillon and his friends who alone had the power to 
do it, and it was they who did it. 


Mr. T. P. O'Connor wept tears of ink over " The 
Passing of George Wyndham " — his passing from the 
Chief Secretaryship, and into his grave — and sang 
canticles over the great things he had done for Ireland 
and the greater things he might still have done, were 
it not for wicked men. The wicked men were, of 
course, the handful of Ulster Orange members, and 
to these Mr. T. P. O'Connor, without a wink in his 
scandalised eyes, attributed the entire guilt for the 
overthrow of Wyndham 's career in Ireland. Never 
was hypocritical fable more easily confuted by the 
incontestable facts. It is quite true that the Orange 
Ulster Party did combine and conspire with Mr. 
T. P. O'Connor's Irish Party to harry Wyndham and 
to hang upon his flanks, until he was finally chased 
from the country — so much the deeper disgrace to 
both sets of conspirators. But it is true as well that 
the Irish Party, commanding 80 votes to the 
Orangemen's 14, and being in a position in addition 
to carry the whole Liberal Opposition into the 
voting lobbies with them, were incomparably the 
most powerful partners in the conspiracy. A brief 
summary of what really happened will, it is to be 
hoped, dispose once for all of the legend that it was 
the Orangemen who killed Cock Robin. 

Before the Session of 1904 opened, Mr. Redmond 
announced that his Party held the Government of 
Wyndham as " prisoners in a condemned cell " 
waiting in fear and trembling for the execution of 
the sentence, and gave them notice that they would 
be " struck at as quickly and as strongly as we can." 

He lost no time in keeping his word. On the 15th 

March, on a vote of censure moved by the Irish Party 
on the Education Vote, the Government was defeated 
by 141 votes to 130. Col. Saunderson and the other 
Ulster members — Messrs. Lonsdale, Gordon, Moore, 
Craig and Sloane — aided on this occasion by abstaining 
from voting for the Government. On 22nd March, 


the Irish Party moved another vote of censure on 
Wyndham (Arterial Drainage) in which they were 
joined in the division Lobby by the entire Ulster 
Party, Col. Saunderson declaring that " all Irish 
members were going to act together and fight what 

he called the Battle of the Bann " On March 29th 

the Irish Party moved still another vote of censure on 
Wyndham (popular control of R.I.C.) but this time 

the Ulster Party voted with the Government. 

On 3rd August Wyndham speaking on the University 
question, said the Government were accused of trifling 
with the question, but he pointed out that during the 
Session the Irish Party had joined in every attempt 
to turn out the Government. He appealed to the 
Party to think it out. (A Nationalist Member — " We 

want to turn you out ") In the Session of 1905, 

Mr. Redmond moved (20th February) an Amendment 
to the Address censuring the Government and was 
joined by Mr. William Moore (of the Orange Party) 
in a violent denunciation of Wyndham, which was 
followed up by a speech from Mr. Dillon bespattering 
Mr. Moore with his praises and reiterating the attacks 
upon Wyndham. Mr. C. Craig said they had been 
invited by the Nationalists to go into the lobby with 
them to show their indignation against the Govern- 
ment. As Unionists they could not do that, but they 
were so profoundly dissatisfied with the conduct of 
Irish affairs that it had been their intention to abstain 
from voting. Mr. Flavin (North Kerry) — I will win 
my cigars if you are going to vote with us to-night. 
Mr. Craig said he sincerely hoped he would win his 
cigars and if they could vote he would give the Hon. 

Member a few more. A few months afterwards, 

Wyndham resigned. 

Will anybody be ever again found bold enough to 
deny that it was the Irish Party who killed Wyndham 
as Chief Secretary in 1905, as surely as it was they who 
killed his great Purchase Act of 1903 by their own 
Act of 1909 ? 



To return to the comparison between the two 
Policies, if the second can be described as a policy 
which was merely the destruction of the first : — We 
from the start advocated, as every body advocates now, 
a special consideration for the apprehensions, and even 
the historic prejudices of our Protestant countrymen in 

Ulster, and in the other three provinces as well 

our assailants scoffed at the Ulster Difficulty, and up 
to a late period joyously relied upon the weapons of 
contempt and ridicule to conjure it down, while the 
aid of the Southern Unionists was fiercely repulsed 
as though it covered some treacherous intrigue against 
the Home Rule Cause. Kindly Irishmen, of Unionist 
traditions, of the stamp of Lord Dunraven, Mr. 
Lindsay Talbot-Crosbie, Mr. Moreton Frewen, Lord 
Rossmore, and Col. (now Sir) W. Hutcheson Poe, 
who from cautious Home Rule beginnings advanced 
to the acceptance of full Dominion Home Rule, were 
vilified more and more savagely the further they 
advanced, as" landlord swindlers," as " our hereditary 
enemies," as " blackblooded Cromwellians," and as 
crafty " anti-Irish conspirators," to whom we had, 
"in a moment of weakness mortgaged the future of 


The folly of the anti-Conciliationists went 
further. They transformed the National Party 
and the National Movement into one from which 
not only all Unionists but all Protestants were 

excluded. We proclaimed the first dogma of the 

Nationalist faith to be that the Protestant minority 
must not only be relieved from any imaginable danger 
to their religious or social liberties, but, on the one 
condition of their being " Irishmen first of all," must 
be welcomed into the high places of honour and 


power in an Irish nation of which the master-builders 
were the Protestant Grattans and Davises and Par- 
nells. Our critics, on the contrary, proceeded to 
add fresh fuel to the flame of Orange fanaticism by 
subjecting the National movement to the new 
ascendancy of a sham Catholic secret society, 
with the result of changing the tepid suspicions of the 
most level headed of the Episcopalian and Presbyterian 
farmers and shopkeepers into sheer terror for the 
future of their children and themselves in an Hibernian- 
ridden Ireland. 

It happened thus. There had of late years crept 
into the North of Ireland a seceding wing (calling 
itself " The Board of Erin ") of the great American 
Antient Order of Hibernians, a genuine Benefit Society 
which had distinguished itself by many works of 
charity and benevolence. The seceding Board of 
Erin never offered any public explanation of the 
objects of their establishment in Ireland. Their work 
was carried on in secret, under an obligation equivalent 
to an oath, not to reveal their secrets and passwords ; 
and nobody was admitted to membership who was 
not a Catholic, frequenting the Catholic Sacraments. 
Such a body would have been entirely harmless, if 
confined to the legitimate sphere of a Friendly Society ; 
but suddenly and secretly established in control of 
the entire visible National organisation, the effect in 
Ulster was that of a brand flourished in a powder- 
magazine. The transformation was effected by a 
stealthy process without any consultation with or 
consent of the Party, the League, or the country, 
and indeed passed all but unnoticed until the operation 
was complete. The paid Secretary of the United 
Irish League (Mr. Joseph Devlin, of Belfast, who now 
for the first time came into prominence) became the 
National President of the Board of Erin ; * the 
Standing Committee of the League was flooded with 

1 Better known in popular parlance as " The Mollies." 


young members of Parliament who had taken their 
vows of secrecy on initiation into the Hibernian Order ; 
the paid organisers of the League were similarly 
initiated and were despatched through the country 
to turn the Branches into as many occult Hibernian 
Divisions at the expense of the United Irish League. 
The public organisation gradually ceased to exist save 
as a respectable means of collecting funds and passing 
resolutions hawked about by their secret masters and 
soon fell into contempt under the nickname of " The 

The Board of Erin Hibernians, who became 
thenceforth the real dispensers of all power and 
offices and titles, from 1906 to 191 6, had every demerit 
that could inflame sectarian passion in Ulster : a 
secret society without any publicly avowed purpose ; 
a body so far from being authentically commissioned 
by the Catholic Church, that their initiatory ceremony 
was originally so near to blasphemy that it had to be 
dropped under threat of excommunication ; but none 
the less composed exclusively of Catholics pledged 
by a Sacramental Test. Into this sinister fraternity, 
now the undisputed masters and wirepullers of the 
public movement, no Protestant Irishman, were he 
the most illustrious in the history of our nation, was 
permitted to enter. The new disability and its Sacra- 
mental Test debased the National Ideal from the aim 
of Wolfe Tone — which was " to unite the whole people 
of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, 
and to substitute the common name of Irishman in 
place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and 
Dissenter " — to the level of a Catholic Orangeism 
in green paint, deformed by the same vices of monopoly 
and intolerance which had made Protestant Orangeism 
a National scourge. The results were catastrophic. 
Those who study the records of the time will not, I 
think, be able to escape from the conclusion that the 
uprise of the Board of Erin, which became for all 


practical purposes the real Government of the country 
behind Mr. Birrell's genial mask, was a more effective 
instrument than Sir Edward Carson in organising 
the Covenanters of Ulster and in driving them to 
desperation and to arms. The ablest historian of the 
Sinn Fein movement, Professor Mitchell Henry, of 
Belfast, tells us : 

" All sections of Sinn Fein as well as the Labour 
Party, saw in the Antient Order of Hibernians a 
menace to any prospect of an accommodation with 
Ulster. This strictly sectarian society, as sectarian 
and often as violent in its methods as the Orange 
Lodges, evoked their determined hostility." 

What the leaders of the Insurrection of Easter 
Week thought on the subject is no less emphatic. 
Says Mr. Patrick H. Pearse, the most romantic of the 
Insurgent Chiefs, who was shot in Kilmainham Jail : 

" The narrowing-down of Nationalism, by a job- 
getting organisation, to the members of one creed 
is the most fatal thing that has taken place in 
Ireland since the days of The Pope's Brass-band 
[a notorious crew of self-styled Catholic placehunters] 
" and is a silent practical riveting of sectarianism on 
the nation." 

The judgment of Mr. James Connolly, a Labour 
leader of remarkable sagacity as well as bravery, who 
was also shot as the Commander of the Citizens' 
Army, is more unequivocal still : 

" Were it not for the existence of the Board of 
Erin the Orange Society would long since have ceased 
to exist. To Brother Devlin, and not to Brother 
Carson, is mainly due the progress of the Covenanter 
Movement in Ulster." 

This was the power which was henceforth to be 
the roguish voice of Jacob, while the hand continued 
to be the unwilling hand of Mr. Redmond. In its 
new phase ot occupation, the Irish Party ceased to 
exist as the National Party of Parnell, and became the 
sham-Catholic Hibernian Party. 



Pray let it be borne in mind that until this process 
of denaturalising the National Movement from top to 
bottom was all but completed, we started no organi- 
sation of our own, no Party of our own, no newspaper 
organ ot our own. Even when at last, in 19 10, 
the All-for-Ireland League came into existence, the 
sole claim it made was for liberty of speech while we 
submitted considerations like the above to the calm 
judgment of our countrymen, before it should be too 
late to undo the mischief. That modest claim was 
ruthlessly rejected by the Board of Erin. At the scene 
of infamous rowdyism known as " the Baton Con- 
vention," the protest we attempted to make against 
the repeal of the Land Purchase Act was one which 
it is certain every thinking man of the race now knows 
to have been a wise and patriotic one. That protest 
was nevertheless suppressed by means of revolvers 
and boxwood batons wielded by batonmen hired at 
10/- a day, and by a Press boycott still more foul 
because it was more ingenious. " The Baton Con- 
vention " marked the death of free speech, as well as 
of Land Purchase. The smallest liberty of appeal to 
general public opinion, outside the limited area in the 
South, where violence durst not present its weapons, 
was smothered as truculently as it had been in the 
darkest days of English repression. No voice of free 
public opinion was allowed to be heard again until 
the Insurrection of 191 6 suppressed the suppressors. 


Mark this thing, too. The men thus assaulted 
and gagged were still members of " the Party," which 
the country in its last exercise of liberty had recently 
obliged to renew its allegiance to our principles. 


The All-for-Ireland League was not founded until the 
Treaty by which the Party was reunited in 1908 on the 
old platform of Conciliation had been shamelessly 
broken. The Treaty, which was the result of a 
Conference between Mr. Redmond and Most Rev. 
Dr. O'Donnall, Bishop of Raphoe, who represented 
the Party, and Father James Clancy, P.P., Carrigaholt, 
and myself who represented the Policy of Conciliation 
plus Business, bound the Party " cordially to welcome 
the co-operation of all classes and creeds willing to aid 
in the attainment " (among other great objects) " of 
the complete abolition of Landlordism." The test 
came when the Treasury, in order to recoup them- 
selves for the losses of the Boer War by a beggarly 
economy at the expense of Ireland, proposed virtually 
to repeal the Act of 1903, under whose generous terms 
hundreds of thousands of tenants were hastening to 
purchase. The Treasury might have been and could 
only have been baffled by the common action between 
landlords and tenants to which the Party had pledged 
themselves by the Treaty of Reunion. Quite other- 
wise, in his infatuated hatred of the Act of 1903, Mr. 
Dillon hailed the Treasury Bill for its repeal with 
exultation, and induced the Party by a majority of 45 
votes to 15 1 to repudiate their pledge to " welcome 
the co-operation " of the landlords against the perfidy 
of the Treasury and thereby gave the signal to the 
Board of Erin to strangle any further opposition by 

1 The names of the minority deserve to be recorded to the 
honour of their posterity : — Messrs. T. M. Healy (North Louth), 
T. C. Harrington (Dublin Harbour Division), Thomas O'Donnell 
(West Kerry), Edward Barry (South Cork), Conor O'Kelly (North 
Mayo), Eugene Crean (South-East Cotk), George Murnaghan 
(Mid. Tvrone), James Gilhoolv (West Cork), Patrick O'Doherty 
(North Donegal), William O'Brien (Cork City), John O'Donnell 
(South Mayo), H. Phillips (North Longford), Augustine Roche 
(Cork City), T. Smyth (South Leitrim), and D. D. Sheehan 
(Mid-Cork). Mr. Redmond did not open his lips on the 


the incredible blackguardism of " The Baton Con- 
vention." Having thus torn to shreds the Treaty 
by which the Party had been reunited, Mr. Birrell 
was given a tree field for passing the Act of 1909 by 
which Land Purchase was brought to a dead stop ; 
over a hundred thousand tenants were for thirteen 
years and are up to the hour at which these pages are 
written, left groaning under the yoke of landlordism, 
and, most execrable trick of all, the Bonus of 
£20,000,000 voted by the glad assent of all Parties 
in 1903 as a Free Imperial gift, was turned into a 
debt due to the Treasury by the Irish Nation. These 
occurrences, men of honour will scarcely need to be 
told, rendered any further association on our part 
impossible with a Party so faithless to their word, and 
so guiltily responsible for a course of action which 
all the world now knows to have been fatal to the 
country's most sacred interests. What Mr. Dillon 
once boastingly said of himself : "I have been all 
my life a destructive politician," might serve for his 
mournful epitaph as a patriot. 


The Liberal Party had returned into power in 
1906 by the aid of the Irish vote, although the Liberal 
Leaders had pledged themselves beforehand not to 
introduce a Home Rule Bill in the forthcoming Parlia- 
ment. Therein "the Party" probably acted wisely, 
but their support was a sufficient defence of Sir H. 
Campbell-Bannerman, if he found himself helpless 
to do anything better than bring in " the Irish Council 
Bill." He took care to make the compromise a 
bearable one by announcing it as "a measure con- 
sistent with and leading up to the larger policy " of 
full Home Rule. Furthermore, he was in a position 
to guarantee that the Bill would be passed in the 


House of Lords ; that it would respect the integrity 
of Ireland ; that it would be subject to revision in 
five years, and if it worked harmoniously in the 
interim to expansion unlimited in extent. The 
effusive acceptance, and, after twenty-four hours, 
the ignoble destruction of that Bill by the Party which 
was now the Hibernian Party, was a tergiversation the 
effects of which upon the unity of Ireland are 
disastrously apparent enough to-day. The Freeman 
and the other Dublin newspapers which wrecked the 
Bill endeavoured to justify themselves by lyingly 
calling it " the Irish Councils' Bill," and, in spite of 
repeated remonstrances, have ever since persisted 
in propagating the falsehood. It is the misdescription 
by one letter that makes all the difference. The 
prime merit of the Bill was that its true title was 
" The Irish Council Bill " and that it would have once 
for all fused Ulster with the rest of the country in an 
elective National Assembly, one and indivisible. On 
that ground I unhesitatingly faced unpopularity even 
among influential friends of our own, in supporting 
the Bill. So did Mr. Redmond, as long as his own 
judgment was unfettered. He and his Party went 
even so extravagantly far as to entertain the 
supposititious father of the Bill, Mr. Birrell, at dinner 
in the House of Commons, the night before they 
crossed over to Ireland to secure its adoption by the 
National Convention. When Mr. Redmond arrived 
in Dublin, it was to find that Mr. Devlin and his 
Board of Erin had for the first time shown their teeth 
in open revolt against their titular leader, and the 
unfortunate gentleman was obliged to submit to the 
degrading ordeal of himself moving the rejection of the 
Bill he had come over from London to bless. It is 
now obvious enough that, had the Irish Council Bill 
been allowed to pass, the Partition of Ireland would 
never have been heard of. 



With Mr. Asquith's Home Rule Bill of 191 2 came 
the final assay of the Liberal Party and of their 
Hibernian allies. The Bill was one which would 
have offered an irresistible temptation to " faction " 
to hold no parley with a measure which proposed to 
reduce Ireland to the status of one of the backwoods 
Parliaments of the Canadian provinces and would 
leave her taxation absolutely at the mercy of the 
Westminster Chancellor of the Exchequer. And, 
unlike the Irish Council Bill which was to be a 
transient measure " consistent with and leading up 
to the larger policy," the Asquith Bill was to be 
" final " and was so accepted. Here again, perhaps, 
we erred by an excess of respect for the decisive, 
however uninformed, verdict of the country at the 
polls. The fact, at all events, is that the All-for- 
Ireland League, both at home and in the House of 
Commons, gave a loyal, if sober-minded, support to 
Mr. Asquith's Bill so long as it proposed to deal with 
an unpartitioned Ireland. But oar support was 
extended to it as an instalment of Ireland's inalienable 
rights, while the Hibernian Party boisterously pledged 
themselves to accept it as a final settlement, even 
after, by their own consent to the surrender of the 
Six Counties, it had been transformed into an avowed 
Partition Bill. 

In the handling of the Ulster Difficulty, two 
errors, from opposite extremes, were committed by 
the Liberal " Home Rule Government " and their 
Hibernian advisers. Long before the Covenanters 
thought of arming themselves, we proposed certain 
definite concessions to Ulster sentiment which will be 
found later on in this volume. They were all of 
them ignored. They were all of them later on 
proffered in a panic, when it was too late, capped by 
an additional concession, almost the only one which 


in our eyes was an inadmissible and undiscussable 
surrender, viz., the separation of Ireland into two 
States. The Liberals and the Board of Erin set their 
faces against any concession at all at a stage when few 
who read Sir James Craig's recent speeches will 
doubt that Ulster might have been won over by a 
policy of " compulsory attraction " such as reconciled 
the landlords to the extinction of Landlordism. The 
wise men undertook to laugh Ulster out of court by 
cracking jokes at her spokesmen and making not over 
delicate fun of her " wooden guns." 

That was their early manner ; it was the error of 
short-sightedness and mere flippancy (as Mr. Lloyd 
George and Viscount Grey have since penitently 
owned). It was followed by the graver fault of sheer 
moral cowardice, as soon as the first mistake became 
visible to the world. The Government first truckled 
to the Board of Erin, and proceeded next to truckle 
to the Orangemen. Our advice, first of all and last 
of all, was to make an offer of abundantly and even 
superabundantly generous terms such as must reassure 
all rational men against any possibility of danger to 
their civil or religious liberties from a National Parlia- 
ment. But our plea for liberal and ungrudging con- 
cessions was accompanied by no less outspoken advice 
in the event of all rational compromise being rejected 
by Ulster, or rather by the outlander Dublin lawyer 
who had by this time shouted himself into her con- 
fidence. Our second recommendation was that the 
Government, with their hands filled with these plentiful 
provisions for the minority, should manfully face the 
British electorate at a General Election and demand 
their authority to enforce the law of Parliament in the 
ordinary way against mere unreason and insane 
bigotry, or else challenge them to commission some 
other Government to drown in blood the aspirations 
of a world-wide Irish race for peace with England. 
The Liberal " Home Rule Government," most un- 


happily, flew from one extreme of folly to the opposite. 
No sooner was the cargo of German rifles from the 
Fanny landed at Larne than the Liberals and 
Hibernians with equally long faces dropped their 
bantering of "the wooden gunmen," met the incipient 
mutiny at the Curragh Camp with obsequious 
apologies from the War Office to the mutineers, and 
shuddered at the thought of arresting and bringing 
to trial like common men Sir Edward Carson and the 
future Lord Chancellors and Privy Councillors who, 
with self-confessed illegality, were preaching armed 
resistance to the King's law to regiments of sworn 
Covenanters with German rifles in their hands. 
Worst of all, the feebleness of the Liberal Cabinet 
made the potential rebels irresistible by making no 
disguise of the fact that they had no notion of risking 
the shortening of their spell of office by challenging 
the verdict of a General Election. If Mr. Lloyd 
George is only just in now acknowledging us to have 
been " fundamentally right " in our way of dealing 
with Ulster, it seems to follow that he and his Liberal 
colleagues and his Hibernian counsellors were no 
less " fundamentally wrong," both in the unbending 
and in the shivering phases of their Ulster tactics. 
The boot was now on the other foot. It was the men 
of the German guns who were laughing, and it was the 
Home Rule Prime Minister who was mumbling 
" Wait and See ! " Mr. Devlin claims the credit of 
having forbidden the Government to prosecute Sir 
Edward Carson ; Mr. Asquith puts the blame on Mr. 
Redmond, who is dead. But there was no contradic- 
tion. Mr. Redmond was only Mr. Devlin in Court 


Again the same trembling indecision on the out- 
break of the War in 1914. Ireland's attitude in this 
crisis was misunderstood in England with such 


ludicrous perversity that the Hibernians had little 
difficulty in persuading a guileless Parliament and 
public that it was certain incivilities of War Office 
officials towards Hibernian recruiting-sergeants that 
determined the failure of Mr. Redmond's war-policy. 
That was absurdly far from being the case. The 
true reason was that Mr. Redmond had no war-policy 
at all. Our own war programme may deserve praise 
or censure ; it was, at all events, unambiguous. We 
proposed an Irish contribution — substantial, but con- 
ditional — to the armies of the Allies. The proposition 
we submitted to Mr. Redmond at the entreaty of his 
most influential supporters in Cork was that he should 
take the initiative in summoning a Conference of Irish 
Unionists and Nationalists for the purpose of jointly 
recruiting an Irish Army Corps with its reserves for 
service on the Continent, upon a guarantee, which we 
were in a position to assure him the Irish Unionists 
would gladly give for themselves, and insist upon from 
a Coalition Government, for an agreed Home Rule 
settlement on the basis of a United Ireland. The 
raising of an Irish Army Corps happened to be what was 
named by the Prime Minister himself as an adequate 
contingent from Ireland and in our judgment, stronger 
now than ever, would have been rewarded with ever- 
lasting gratitude from England if offered in that hour 
of her peril. The proposal was contemptuously 
thrown aside by the Hibernian leaders, without (as 
we now know) going through the formality of con- 
sulting their Party, and without advancing any clear- 
cut alternative of their own. 

But Mr. Redmond's famous War-speech, over 
which England almost wept for joy ? The most 
foolish English member of Parliament who went into 
raptures over it then has only to read it now to know 
how absurdly he was hoaxed. It is not Mr. Redmond's 
sincerity that is impugned when he professed and truly 
Celt fidelity to the Allies : it is that the titular leader 


of the Hibernians was never more than the sub- 
conscious instrument of two or three men, whose 
judgment he profoundly mistrusted, but to whose 
tortuous ways, since (by this time) they represented 
" majority rule," he was bound to conform. He met 
the war-crisis with that characteristic mixture of high 
vision and unfirm purpose which at the same time 
exalted and enfeebled his character. His speech in 
the House of Commons, delirious as was the effect of 
its eloquence upon English nerves, strained at the 
moment as they had, perhaps, never been before, in 
reality misled England and Ireland alike, wobbling 
as it did between what sounded like a vehement 
promise of an Irish Army for Flanders, and what it 
really was — some cryptic undertaking to " defend the 
shores of Ireland " against what danger he forbore 
to specify, but in language which Young Ireland 
interpreted as a hint to keep their arms for home 
service — for what precise service or against what 
foe, they were left to divine for themselves. The 
attempt to ride the two horses disastrously broke 
down. It only raised the young Republicans, now 
dimly showing themselves, in revolt against the double- 
dealing of the Hibernians, while in the direction of 
aiding the Allies it got no further than a half-hearted 
recruiting campaign to raise an " Irish Brigade " 
(the absurd misnomer bestowed on the 16th Division) 
which, after spending its Irish blood in rivers, without 
much thanks either in England or in Ireland, wound 
up by being obliged to see its depleted ranks eked out 
by English recruits. The sacrifices of at least half- 
a-million soldiers of Irish blood, scattered through the 
various Allied armies, were allowed to go without 
reward or notice — with, indeed, much revilement of 
their motherland, — while the hints of a counter-policy 
of " defending the shores of Ireland " threw most 
young Irishmen worth their salt into the Republican 
camps to " wait and see." 



The Hibernian Party who, be it remembered, still 
held the balance of power in the House of Commons 
and could have dismissed the Liberals from office 
when they pleased, forfeited their last claim to the 
allegiance of Irish Nationalists by, twice over, without 
a shred of authority from the country, agreeing to 
surrender to Sir E. Carson in the first instance four, 
and later (under cover of the War) six of the counties 
most famous in her history, in obedience to the 
exigencies of a Liberal " Home Rule Government " 
who had heretofore jibbed at the mildest suggestion of 
concessions to Ulster. The story of the surrender will 
be found for the first time fully revealed in this book. 

The surrender of the Six Counties changed the 
traditions and prospects of the Irish National move- 
ment in an all but irreparable degree. Partition 
became thenceforward the sharpest dividing line of all 
between the Hibernians and the All-for-Irelanders. 
Consent to Partition came to be common ground 
amongst every other section ot the House of Commons. 
A Partition Treaty sealed by the assenting votes of 75 
out of 83 Nationalist representatives of Ireland proved 
to be Ulster's incontestable Magna Charta for the 
future. The final temperate protest of the All-for- 
Ireland group in the House of Commons was shouted 
down with yells of " Factionists ! " and " Traitors ! " 
by the triumphant Hibernian majority, and bonfires 
were lighted in Ireland in celebration of what was 
really the Partition " Act on the Statute-Book " by a 
guileless public who, if they were to construct bonfires 
a few years later, would only utilise them to cast 
" the Act on the Statute-Book " into the flames, 
where, indeed, it ultimately found its fate amidst the 
impartial contempt of all sides. Partition was all that 
remained of it. The claim of Sir E. Carson, thus 


endorsed with the consent of the Hibernians, became 
so firmly fixed as a basis in all subsequent negotiations 
that, even after the Hibernian Party was dead and 
gone, the Republican plenipotentiaries who went to 
Downing St. in 1921, found themselves coerced to 
negotiate upon the recognition of that self-same 
separation of the Six Counties, from the responsibility 
for which the Hibernians will find no escape before 
the judgment-seat of History. 


Finally, Ireland's last opportunity was lost of 
extracting from the World-War emergency any 
tolerable Home Rule settlement by constitutional 
methods when, without a protesting word, the 
Hibernian Party consented to the destruction of the 
Liberal Home Rule Cabinet placed in power for the 
express purpose of " giving full self-government to 
Ireland," and the substitution in its place of a Coalition 
Cabinet in which Mr. Bonar Law, Sir E. Carson and 
Mr. F. E. Smith, the versatile English lawyer who 
trained for the Lord Chancellorship of England as 
" Galloper " at the Orange rebel reviews, became by 
far the most potent figures. 

The inevitable followed, with the surefootedness 
of Nemesis. The Irish Republic arose to take up the 
power which the Irish Parliamentary Party had shame- 
fully misused. The young men of Ireland, long 
chafing under the spectacle of incapacity in Parliament 
and venality at home, heard their hour of deliverance 
from the Hibernian nightmare strike when the World- 
War proclaimed new and giddy possibilities of 
Self-Determination for "the small nationalities." In 
an ecstacy of sacred madness, which makes the best 
men mad by their contagion, they rose up in the 
Easter Week of 1916 at the gates of Dublin Castle, 
and whatever else they failed to do — owing to their 


cargo of German arms being less fortunate than Sir 
E. Carson's — brought the degenerate Parliamentary 
movement once for all to its ignoble ending. England 
also received the meet reward of her politicians' 
perfidy. In place of the amiable and ail-too modest 
petitions for peace which the Irish race had spent 
forty years in tendering, and tendering in vain, to 
England, the flag of the Irish Republic was frankly 
run up by the new generation, and in a few years 
conquered its way to Downing Street. 

It was by the stone-blindness of the confederate 
Liberal and Hibernian Parties the policy of an Irish 
settlement by consent was baffled throughout the years 
from 1903 to 191 8, in any one of which, had there only 
been statesmanship at the helm, there might have 
been achieved a Peace Treaty which would have 
secured to Ireland all that the Treaty of 192 1 gave her, 
and more, for the victory would have been achieved 
for an Undivided Ireland, not for a Partitioned Ireland, 
and it would have been achieved half a generation 
sooner and at less than one-thousandth part of the 
cost in blood and treasure. As the stern justice of 
things would have it, the two powerful Parties re- 
sponsible for the mischief were, the one and the other, 
virtually annihilated at the polls in 191 8, and the soul 
of Ireland was saved. With their disappearance stops 
the special function of this book, which is to elucidate 
the real causes of the Irish Revolution, and to restore 
events heretofore utterly distorted and falsified to 
their true perspective, in the light of waning years. 
There will be found in its pages documentary records 
of letters and interviews between the writer and Mr. 
Lloyd George, Mr. Bonar Law, Sir E. Carson, Sir 
Henry Duke, Mr. Arthur Griffith, Mr. De Valera, 
Lord Dunraven, Lord Northcliffe, Mr. William 
Martin Murphy and others. My communications 
with Ministers, it will be observed, took place in- 
variably on the initiative of Ministers, and only began 


after the Rising of Easter Week, when Mr. Lloyd 
George conceived his first fantastic scheme (never, 
until now, I think, publicly heard of) for an Irish 
Provisional Government to be immediately established. 
His object in inviting, only at that particular stage, 
counsels heretofore rejected with the cynicism of the 
politician who has to choose between the views of a 
Party of Seven, as opposed to those of a Party of 
Seventy, was, I am afraid, scarcely to be mistaken. 
The Party of Seventy had miserably foundered in 
the storm of Easter Week. The Ministerial hope too 
obviously was that the respect in which our doctrines 
were known to be held by a powerful and unpurchase- 
able section of the young men who had not yet quite 
gone over to the Republic, and by a considerable 
section of those who had, 1 might still give me influence 
enough to patch up some semblance of peace in a 
country subdued, but far from subjugated, by Martial 
Law. In this connection, the message from " an 
influential member of the Cabinet " intimating — 
" I know so much more than O'B. can know of the 
North East people. I know how hard and almost 
impossible it is for them to confer with R. or he with 
them. O'B. has got very near the Northerns. He, 
if any one, can bridge the last gap." is, also, not to be 
lost sight of. 

1 A partly amusing and wholly pathetic piece of evidence in 
proof was what happened on the occasion of my last public speech 
in Cork, on June 24, 1916, to protest against Partition. A young, 
but energetic, minority of my audience succeeded in preventing me 
from obtaining a hearing by chorussing " The Soldier's Song," the 
newly-composed war-song of the Republicans. They several 
times suspended the disorder, while their leaders (one of whom 
was afterwards shot dead at Ballykinlar Camp) came on the plat- 
form to announce that their refusal of a hearing was not through 
any personal disrespect or failure of affection for me, but to express 
their dissent from my attitude in the War, and that solely because 
I was the only man who had the power of winning honest Nationalists 
back to a Parliamentary movement which was otherwise dead and 
rotten. They suspended hostilites again, to agree with one voice 
to a resolution against Partition, but instantly recommenced " The 
Soldier's Song," and would listen to no more. 


This particular scheme had the brilliancy of all 
Mr. Lloyd George's improvisations, but it had, too, 
the defect that rendered most of his brilliant im- 
provisations void — a brilliancy without knowledge. 
The awakening of the British politicians came too 
late. The suggestion of a Provisional Government, 
in which apparently All-for-Irelanders and Ulster 
Unionists were to act in concert, might at one time 
have done wonders to produce a united Ireland ; 
but the mad notion of Mr. Healy and myself joining 
Sir E. Carson and Mr. Redmond, on the morrow of 
the Insurrection, in a Cabinet founded upon Mr. 
Redmond's expression of " horror and detestation " 
of the Insurgents, while their lives were trembling in 
the balance, and upon Sir E. Carson's offer to co- 
operate with him in " putting down these rebels for 
evermore " — the rebels in whose glorious unselfishness 
we saw the one gleam of hope for the salvation of 
Ireland from the politicians — was a conception that 
could only have occurred to the inmate of a padded 
cell — or to a British Minister addressing himself to 
Irish affairs. In my second interview with Mr. Lloyd 
George, at which Sir E. Carson was present, he had 
already abandoned the March hare he had started ; 
the Provisional Government was no longer mentioned, 
and my own suggestion of the only emollient policy at 
that moment practicable was ignored with the old 
self-complacent fatuity. The reader will be able to 
study, documents in hand, a good deal of the secret 
history of the next Irish project of Mr. Lloyd George's 
fertile brain — his " Irish Convention " of 19 17 — 
which seemed to catch at the solution we had been all 
along advocating, but adopted it only in a form that 
made its failure unavoidable. The Convention's only 
real achievement was the downfall of Mr. Redmond 
and his pathetic death. 

So long as there was left the stump of a sword in 
our hands, we thought it a duty to struggle on, 


endeavouring to reconcile the Coalition Government 
to measures of a very different character which, after 
years of bloody travail, they were destined to submit 
to, without gratitude from Ireland and without 
deserving it. Not the least instructive of those 
communications was my last correspondence with the 
Prime Minister in July, 1919, when he spurned the 
all but certain prospect of peace with the most 
redoubtable of the Insurgent leaders — one under 
whose feet he was happy enough later on to spread his 
softest carpets as his visitor in Downing Street. Mr. 
De Valera more than three years afterwards told me 
" he had been all along in favour of peace with 
England, and at one time he could have carried it all 
right, if Lloyd George placed him in a position to offer 
the young men a measure of National Independence 
for the whole country upon some reasonable terms of 
External Association." Once more ugly shadows 
obscured the bright lights of Mr. Lloyd George's 
intellect. The reader will, I am afraid, find it pain- 
fully evident that Mr. De Valera 's reasonableness at 
the zenith of his power was despised because the 
assumption had not yet been flogged out of the British 
politician mind, that the Irish leader must be already a 
beaten and broken man when he began to tolerate the 
notion of an accomodation with England. 

The truth is that in neither country had Parlia- 
mentarianism in any shape a chance any longer. 
Once it was made clear that it had become impossible 
to obtain an official hearing, on either side of the Irish 
Sea, for remedies whose days of efficacy had passed 
away, all that remained for us of the All-f or- Ireland 
League to do was to blot ourselves out, unequivocally 
and entirely, from the controversy in order to leave a 
freehand to those of a new generation who had resolved 
to have done with an outworn and decomposing 
Parliamentarianism altogether. They had already 
done Ireland three precious services which they 
alone had the necessary strength to do. It was they 


who had defeated Conscription ; it was they who had 
dethroned the squalid sham-Catholic Ascendancy 
which was reducing the National Ideal to something 
scarcely distinguishable from Orangeism, except that 

the war-whoop : " To h wi' the Pup ! " was 

replaced by the scarcely chaster one of " Up the 
Mollies ! " Better than all, it was they who had 
delivered Irish public life from conditions in which 
the price of Partition had been paid to gratify the greed 
for places, emoluments and titles for which an eminent 
Irish ecclesiastic and man of letters x could find no 
suaver description than " putrefaction." It was the 
youth of Ireland, by their purity of purpose, and their 
all but superhuman readiness — nay, enthusiasm — for 
death in a holy cause, who had the glory, in a three 
years' war in which the odds counted a thousand to 
one against them, of expelling every vestige of English 
rule from Dublin Castle, and from three-fourths of 
the country, where the squeezability of Irish politicians 
and the faithlessness of British ones had made havoc 
of more moderate demands and gentler methods. In 
that attitude of unmeddling and uncaptious fairplay 
towards those upon whose shoulders the burden of the 
nation's fortunes had now fallen, we have persisted 
loyally to the last. A history of the romantic war by 
which the day was gained against Satanic powers and 
barbarities scarcely to be imagined — gained, it must 
never be forgotten, with the succour of all that was 
noblest in the civilization of Britain — must be the 
work of some younger and more fully-informed pen. 

The present narrative stops with the Truce of 
July ii, 1 92 1. All that has occurred since can only 
be dispassionately judged whenever the course of the 

1 The late Canon Sheehan, Parish Priest of Doneraile, whose 
last novel, The Graves at Ktlmorna, predicted the ruin of the 
Parliamentary movement with the dread certainty of a Biblical 


secret negotiations which ended in the signing of the 
Treaty of Downing Street on the night of December 
5-6, 1921, comes to be revealed. But to those who 
can find nothing but Irish incorrigibility in the 
tragedies that followed while the merits or demerits 
of the Treaty were debated in a murderous Civil 
War between the comrades who had come off 
victorious over the militarism of aliens, certain 
observations have to be made, if the lessons taught 
by this book are not to be neglected anew in the 
coming time. 

The first is : the sins of the Irish Revolution are 
primarily the sins of those who, in Ireland and in 
Westminster, made the Revolution a necessity. If 
bloodshed and chaos lurk in the train of all armed 
uprisings for Liberty, however nobly planned, of 
such are the pangs and travail of which nations are 
born or re-born. The aid of Revolution, once 
invoked, almost everywhere exacts its penalties in 
similar, and often incomparably worse, scenes of 
agony and shame. The United States themselves 
— the soberest of Revolutionists — did not think four 
years of a devastating Civil War and the sacrifice of 
a million of lives an excessive price to pay for their 
National Unity in what was really a war against 
Partition. And it may put some check on England's 
propensity to sermonize her neighbours if she will 
only remember that her sympathies were with the 
Partitionist rebels in the American Civil War, as they 
were, and, I am afraid, are, with the Partitionist 
rebels of Ulster. She must really not be over- 
scandalized if the process of casting her out from 
Ireland has produced agonies in the half- delivered 
country more acute than when the evil spirit of 
English rule wholly possessed our nation. 

Those of us who have lived long enough to 
realize that the Absolute of the Idealist can have no 
existence in this perverse world, will not grudge a 


large indulgence to negotiators who, in circumstances 
of cruel difficulty and under pressure of not very 
creditable threats, acted on the injunction of Cardinal 
de Retz that the function of a statesman is to make 
a good choice between grave inconveniences. It 
would, however, be foolish of people in England, 
and still more foolish of people in Ireland, to blind 
their eyes to the fact that there are objections to the 
Treaty deeper and more likely to endure than those 
of the visionaries. It is simply not true that the 
Irish Free State is the embodiment of " Ireland a 
Nation." The Irish Free State is not a Free State 
of Ireland at all, but a very different thing. It is 
only one of two Irish States, and of two States expressly 
carved out to be hostile States in race and creed. 
The existence of an Irish Papist was not recognized 
by law in the Penal Ages. The very name of 
Ireland as a unit has ceased to exist in law under 
the Statute which deliberately substitutes " Northern 
Ireland " and " Southern Ireland " as the legal 
designations of the two rival States. 

We are plied with the consolation that the liberty 
accorded to Ireland is Canadian Home Rule. Again, 
it is simply not the truth. The Home Rule of the 
Irish Free State is what Canadian Home Rule would 
be, if the province of Quebec were separated from 
the Dominion, and annexed to France or to the 
United States, and if, moreover, Canada were sub- 
jected to a compulsory Imperial contribution, and 
aggressively stripped of the right of Secession. 
England remains in possession of an English Pale 
richer and more populous than she was able to 
maintain from the twelfth to the seventeenth century. 
And for the much advertised " British evacuation of 
Ireland," England retains within the seas of Ireland 
an army powerful enough to reoccupy Dublin within 
a week. The graves of St. Patrick and St. Brigid, 
and of the last of the High Kings of Ireland — the 


Deny of St. Colmcille — the Armagh palaces of the 
Red Branch Knights of Irish chivalry — the most 
glorious battlefields of Ireland's history from Black- 
water and Benburb to Antrim Fight — the church of 
the Dungannon Convention — the Cave Hill of Wolfe 
Tone's United Men — have all become conquered 
territory and foreign soil. 

Affronts like these to the most cherished sentiment 
of a nation older than any in Europe are not to be 
got rid of by printing the Northern Ireland and the 
Southern Ireland of the British Statute Book within 
sarcastic " quotation marks " in our newspapers. 
The Treaty is a compromise, and in one respect an 
all but fatal compromise. Where, in our design, the 
varied tints of universal Ireland might have been 
united, rainbow-wise, to form one arch of peace, 
there are left, in place of one dissentient minority, 
three new minorities smarting under memories which 
it may take many years of healing patriotism to 
render supportable. Within the Six Counties, the 
Catholic minority already count their martyred dead 
by the thousand and their ravaged homes by tens of 
thousands. The Unionist minority in the South, 
who, had they accepted Home Rule as frankly in 
1912 as they have done in 1921, might be figuring 
by this time amongst the foremost leaders of their 
countrymen, have been obliged to put up with 
sufferings of their own which , although immeasurably 
fewer than those of the Catholics of the North, are 
none the less cruel and detestable. Pray Heaven 
that certain abominations of the Civil War of 1922, 
from the responsibility for which neither side is 
free, may not finish by creating and perpetuating a 
Republican Minority still more dangerously dis- 
contented ! Until some way can be found out of 
these complexities it would be wicked to flatter 
England into the delusion that she will not still be 
pursued and haunted by the disaffection of an 
Irlanda Irredenta, 


For all that, there is no more reassuring proof 
of the prodigious advances made by the Irish Cause 
than the difficulty of getting the Republican youth 
to form a tolerant estimate of the amazing powers 
and liberties which the Treaty, with all its limitations, 
does indisputably embody. Its one organic vice is 
not so much the fault of the Sinn Fein negotiators 
as of the Hibernian negotiators who preceded them 
and fettered their hands. It cannot be beyond the 
compass of an enlightened patriotism to find a 
happy solution of these difficulties within the 
country and between the two countries, and that not 
by the rude hand of armed Revolution, but by 
unwearying good humour and by a magnanimity 
towards minorities that will take no rebuffs. 

But three things seem to my poor vision to be 
essential things : (i) The old " loyalist " minority, 
inside and outside the Six Counties, must have their 
apprehensions allayed in that spirit of conciliatory 
tenderness, allied with quiet firmness of purpose, of 
which the nominations to the Free State Senate have 
given a substantial guarantee. (2) Love of Ireland 
must not be confounded with an insane hatred of 
England — the England of actual life. There must 
be a generous recognition of the extent to which the 
masses of the British people have come to a deep 
heart on the subject of their relations with Ireland. 
Self-interest, no less than our finer instincts, counsels 
us to understand and appreciate the supreme fact 
that nothing short of some intolerable aggression on 
our own part will henceforth tempt the honest 
common people of Britain to undertake the armed 
reconquest of Ireland. (3) Before and above every 
other consideration whatsoever, I would place the 
condition that means must be found of reconciling 
and restoring good comradeship among those portions 
of the two armies of the Civil War who were 
comrades in a nobler war up to the Truce of July 


11, 1921. Nobody is more acutely sensible than I 
how trying to their elders often enough are those 
Republican youngsters who, in their passionate 
devotion to the soul of Ireland, are apt to forget 
that there is also a body of Ireland which has some 
rights in the partnership. It is Tourguenief's ever- 
lasting incompatibility of " Fathers and Sons " — of 
the greyheads who cannot help knowing and the 
adolescents who need nothing but faith in their own 
bright imaginings. Nevertheless, fortunate is the 
nation the worst reproach of whose youth is the 
excess of spirituality and self-renunciation which 
impelled them, in the face of a terrorism that made 
the strong men stagger, to pluck up the Irish Cause 
out of the pit of corruption and disaster into which 
the " Constitutional " politicians, Irish and British, 
had sunk it. Unnatural, indeed, would be the 
Irishman who would not suffer injuries at their 
hands in silence — who would not extend an infinite 
indulgence even to their unreason — rather than find 
any comfort in seeing the young founders of our 
liberties hunted down and put to death, or traduced 
as the scum of the earth, by their own ungrateful 

It is too soon to say more with any confidence, 
excepting this : Amidst the gloom which hangs over 
our country as heavily as a funeral pall, while these 
pages are written, there shines forth one consolation 
of immortal efficacy — we can never permanently lose 
anything we have won (and we have won many and 
marvellous things) ; and whatever remains will of a 
certainty be added unto us — it may be through the 
mediation of the League of Nations, to whose council 
board Ireland will now have free access — not, in any 
case, we may pray, through any new recourse to the 
barbarities of armed Revolution, but through the wise 
exercise of the powers which the Revolution was 
needed in order to place within our reach. For 


which reason, however our hearts are saddened by the 
smoking monuments all around us of the existing war of 
fratricides, the story of the earlier and united struggle 
of the pre-Truce days will for centuries still in the 
womb of time kindle in the soul of Ireland a pride 
in her young men and an unconquerable faith that 
what they did highly and holily then, they will be 
found capable of doing again at need, so long as the 
ocean breaks against our irremovable landmarks as a 





The All-f or- Ireland League was founded on March 
31, 1910. For seven years after the revolt of Mr. 
Dillon and the Freeman against the authorized 
National Policy in 1903 we had struggled on as best 
we might without any separate national organization 
of our own and in the face of a hostile Press which 
prevented the greater part of the country from 
reading anything except monstrous misrepresentations 
of our arguments, so far as our words were not 
suppressed altogether. We did so in the hope that 
the incapacity of the revolters to produce any 
practical policy of their own and the amazing 
progress of the abolition of landlordism in those 
counties where our advice had been followed would 
gradually influence " The Party " to return to the 
Policy of appeasement to which they had, with a 
single exception, pledged themselves in 1903. Public 
opinion did, in fact, compel " The Party " to accept, 
with a few verbal alterations, the conditions which 
I suggested in a speech in Wexford in 1907 as those 
on which the Party might be reunited, and these 
conditions, embodied in a formal Treaty at the 
Mansion House Conference at which Mr. Redmond 
and Bishop O'Donnell acted on the one part and 
Father James Clancy and myself on the other, 
beyond all question re-pledged the Party " cordially 
to welcome that co-operation of Irishmen of all 
classes and creeds " which was the essence of the 
National Policy of 1903. Had that reunion been 


followed up in true democratic fashion, by referring 
the Treaty to a National Convention, for endorsement 
or otherwise, nobody was in less doubt than Mr. 
Dillon that the reunion would have become a genuine 
one from which no factionist would henceforth dare 
to break away. 

His successful opposition to the holding of a 
National Convention was the first symptom of how 
he regarded the Treaty to which he submitted with- 
out one gracious word. He and his followers next 
proceeded, at a private meeting of the Party, to 
violate the Treaty in its essence, by voting down by 
42 votes to 15 a proposal to welcome the co-opera- 
tion of the landlord organization in defeating the 
Treasury Bill by which the great Act of 1903 was 
eventually repealed and Land Purchase killed. Once 
more — his necessities, not his will, consenting — Mr. 
Redmond sat silent in the chair while the Treaty, to 
which his was the first signature, was torn to tatters 
under his eyes. Mr. Dillon's next step, in his new 
campaign of disruption, was to direct Mr. Asquith 
and Mr. Birrell — as the most charitable must con- 
clude it was he alone who could have directed them — 
to refuse upon an infantile pretext to receive the 
most representative deputation who ever went out of 
Munster — a deputation representing the united 
strength of the landlord and tenant class, of the 
members of Parliament and elective Councils of the 
South — the very incarnation of that co-operation of 
Irishmen of all ranks and religious professions which 
the Treaty of Reunion declared to be the best hope 
of the nation. Even that elementary constitutional 
right of remonstrance with the Government who 
were planning the destruction of Land Purchase 
must be denied with insult to the representatives of 
the people by a Home Rule Prime Minister who 
was at the same moment giving an effusive hearing 
to a deputation from the Scottish liquor trade on 


the subject of the whiskey duties. Violation number 
two of the Treaty of Reunion on which Mr. Healy 
and myself and five of our colleagues had been 
fraudulently lured back to the Party. 

My growing feeling that it was no longer possible 
to remain associated with a Party so faithless to the 
nation and to their colleagues was decided once for 
all by the infamous extinction of free speech at 
" The Baton Convention " (February 9, 1909). The 
question to be debated was nothing less than whether 
the English Treasury was to be relieved from the 
most favourable financial bargain ever secured for 
Ireland, and relieved by the connivance, and even by 
the votes, of Ireland's own representatives. Upon a 
question of the first magnitude such as this freedom of 
speech was crushed with the strong hand by a band of 
Hibernians, armed with revolvers, who were imported 
by special train from Belfast, and marched to the 
Mansion House in military order, where they took 
possession of every approach to the Convention Hall, 
while the interior of the Hall was occupied by 
another force of batonmen, paid 10s. a day for their 
services, who were armed with boxwood batons of 
the type used by the police, attached to the wrists 
of the men who wielded them by leathern thongs. 
Two-thirds of the assembly even as sifted through 
the Hibernian turnstiles were honest agriculturists 
eager to hear both sides of a debate on which the 
hope of emancipation of hundreds of thousands of 
their class was hanging. The others were, to put it 
bluntly, armed ruffians, town-bred and knowing no 
more of the merits or demerits of the Birrell Re- 
pealing Bill under discussion than most of us do of 
the laws of relativity. Their job was to prevent 
one connected sentence from any opponent of the 
Birrell Bill reaching the straining ears of the 
assembly in general, and this they did by the yells 
of savages, and where the yells did not suffice, by 


swinging their batons and producing their revolvers 
and assaulting everybody with a Cork accent " 
who made bold to utter a word of remonstrance. 
By enlightened methods such as these, they stifled 
almost every syllable of a speech from myself which, 
it is quite safe to say, would now be read by all 
disinterested Irishmen as an argument of common- 
sense so obvious as to be commonplace and as a 
forewarning of the national misfortune which has 
since slain Land Purchase by Irish hands. My 
amendment was : " That any Bill based on the lines 
of the Birrell Land Bill of last Session must lead to 
the stoppage of Land Purchase for an indefinite 
number of years in the interest of the British 
Treasury and impose an intolerable yearly penalty 
upon those tenant-purchasers whose purchase 
money the Treasury has failed to provide." 
I wonder if even the rudest of the disturbers 
at the Baton Convention or of their employers 
could now read that amendment without a pang of 

My observations pointing out how easily the 
Treasury Bill might even still be defeated by that 
" co-operation of Irishmen of all classes and creeds 
to complete the abolition of Landlordism," which 
the Party had in solemn words pledged themselves 
" cordially to welcome " as the condition of the 
Reunion, were received with still more ferocity when 
seconded by Father James Clancy, my colleague at 
the Conference by which the Treaty of Reunion, 
now cast to the winds, was subscribed by Mr. 
Redmond and his Party under every condition that 
could bind men of honour. The arrival of Mr. 
Healy on the platform was the final signal for 
closuring instantly, and amidst a scene of deafening 
confusion a debate in which not a single sentence of 
protest was suffered to be heard against the English 
Treasury Bill. Its nominal adoption by the Baton 


Convention sentenced over a hundred thousand Irish 
tenants from that day to this to servitude in the 
toils of landlordism in order to enable the English 
Treasury to realise a dishonest economy and to 
gratify the spleen of two or three politicians against 
the Land Conference and against the Wyndham Act 
of 1903 which was its fruit. 1 If the Hibernian Party 
committed no other evil deed against Ireland, 
students of the record of the Baton Convention will, 
I think, agree that the foul business was in itself 
sufficient to make its organizers worthy politically 
to die the death, and will only wonder how the 
execution of the sentence could have been so long 

My withdrawal from the Party and from Parliament 
followed the Baton Convention. My dislike — it 
might with truth be said aversion — to Parliamentary 
life went to unreasonable lengths, but it was 
ineradicable. The feeling was deepened to a point 
almost beyond bearing by recent contact with 
the meannesses which, I suppose, infest the 
underworld of politics in every country. But by a 
curious turn of destiny, it took me more time and 

1 From this censure I desire expressly to exclude Mr. Davitt. 
His faith was in nationalization of the land, and his opposition 
to the Wyndham Act, or to any other scheme of peasant 
proprietary, was consistent and perfectly legitimate. It has always 
been a consolation to me to remember that in all those years of 
controversy no word personally hurtful to Mr. Davitt has ever 
escaped me. His last letter to me upon a private matter shortly 
before his death was as full of manly friendship as if nothing 
had happened since the period of loyal comradeship he and I spent 
together during the hard years when the United Irish League 
was being formed ouc of the ruins of the National movement. 
Nobody with any intimate knowledge of Mr. Davitt will doubt 
that had he been alive at the time of the Baton Convention he 
would have forbidden with indignation the preparations for that 
orgy of violence or would have separated himself with loathing 
from its organizers. 


pains to secure my escape for good from the English 
Parliament than it takes (and legitimately takes) 
the average British citizen to gain admission to it ; 
and this time again the one thing unforeseeable 
happened to drag me miserably back. Before retiring 
in shattered health to Florence, where I spent the 
next nine months without seeing an Irish paper, I 
had implored my friends in Cork to put a summary 
end to all controversy by accepting in my place any 
candidate the Hibernian Party might please to 
nominate, and had specially enjoined the fifteen 
Parliamentary colleagues who shared my views to 
make no further protest that could trouble the 
smooth working of the Party. A very little tact, not 
to say decent feeling, on the part of the triumphant 
Party managers, would have delivered them from 
any further anxiety. 

Their notion of tact was to press on the people 
of Cork the candidate of all others who was most 
offensive to the majority of them, and because he 
was the most offensive — Mr. George Crosbie, the 
owner of the Cork Examiner y who had gone over 
with his paper to the Hibernians and turned its 
guns with all the renegade's zeal against the policy 
and the men he believed in, so far as genuine 
patriotic belief he had any. 1 It was too severe a 
trial for poor human nature. The people of Cork 

1 The true character of Mr. Crosbie's change of faith may be 
judged by the not very delicate cynicism of a remark of his to 
myself while the Examiner was still unperverted. " The only 
possible objection I can see to your policy," he said, " is that it is 
so obviously common sense and common sense never has a chance in 
Ireland." The punishment which eventually overtook Mr. Crosbie 
was an unwarrantable and tyrannous one in itself, but was only 
a rougher form of the foul play and tyranny he had himself 
practised against the friends he deserted. During the Civil War 
of 1922 he was obliged to kneel daily at the feet of Miss Mary 
MacSwiney, T.D., to receive her orders as Military Censor in his 
editorial chair. He meekly announced : " The Republican 


insisted on rejecting the renegade and elected Mr. 
Maurice Healy, a man remarkable for his sobriety 
of judgment and of first-rate intellectual rank, who 
had not for years interfered in any public controversy, 
and had no objection to taking the pledge to act 
faithfully with the Party. With an insolent folly for 
which even the Baton Convention had not prepared 
the public, the Party Managers refused to admit to 
the Party the elected representative of the people of 
Cork, and from that day forth addressed themselves 
with all their might to undermine in their consti- 
tuencies the members of the Conciliationist Minority, 
who still remained in the Party, to organize their 
expulsion from public life at the approaching General 
Election, and in the meantime to starve them out by 

authorities wish us to state their censorship is merely for the 
purpose of securing impartial reports." After his own perfor- 
mances for years in publishing grossly garbled reports of All-for- 
Ireland speeches or boycotting them entirely, it was indeed 
edifying that he should be brought to realize the virtues of 
" impartial reports." However, the " impartial reports " he was 
under the penitential necessity of publishing during the Republican 
supremacy took the shape of four or five columns every day of 
Republican leading articles levelling charges of traitorism and 
murder against Mr. Arthur Griffith and General Michael Collins 
and trouncing the Bishops and priests in terms that might well 
have made the respectable founder of the Cork Examiner shudder 
in his grave. Doubtless in his new apostacy the worthy gentleman 
found some consolation in another of his favcurite apothegms : 
" The most interesting thing I can find to read in the Examiner 
is the agents' books." The circulation must have been 
brisk during the Republican interregnum, for the good reason, if 
there was no other, that it was the only newspaper left in existence. 
The only other local daily, the Constitution, like the fine old Tory 
that it was, preferred to die rather than follow the example of its 
contemporary. Needless to add, no sooner was Miss Mary 
MacSwiney replaced by the Military Censor of the Free State, 
than the Examiner, true to its patriotic repute as le domestique de 
tons les pouvoirs — the humble servant of everybody who comes out 
on top — rushed to the rescue of the conquerors and proceeded to 
pour cut no less vigorous abuse upon its late editorial contributors 
in their retreat. 


cutting off their Parliamentary indemnity from the 
National Funds — an indemnity to which the humblest 
member of the Party had, according to the terms on 
which the Funds had been collected, as just a title 
as Mr. Redmond or Mr. Devlin. It was not pre- 
tended that any one of these men contemplated 
revolt against the sternest discipline of the Party. 
They voted steadily with the Hibernian majority for 
the Birrell Bill, well though they knew the result must 
be the destruction of Land Purchase, but knew also 
that it was not they, but the Hibernian majority, who 
were the violators of the Treaty of Reunion which 
pledged the entire Party to an opposite course. The 
Board of Erin used their power without pity, and 
their victims, as it seemed, had no friends. It was 
not merely against my more intimate friends their 
thumbs were turned down ; every member of the 
minority who had voted for the observance of the 
Treaty of Reunion, even Mr. Tim Harrington, the 
Lord Mayor of Dublin — one of the foremost of 
nation-builders all his lifetime, now a stricken veteran 
in ruined health — was threatened in his own con- 
stituency in Dublin, solely because he had declined, 
as one of the members of the Land Conference, to 
recant principles to which he had, most inoffensively 
but steadfastly, held true. The constituencies of all 
the rest of the minority were flooded with Hibernian 
organizers, the people plied with calumnious 
whispers, and with ready-made resolutions of censure, 
and every appetite of corruption was set on edge for 
the innumerable jobs and dignities, the disposal of 
which was the only advantage the Party had been able 
to gain for Ireland during the first Parliament of the 
Liberal Ministry. 

As the General Election approached, it was the 
anguish of hearing such news poured into my ears 
by faithful and self-sacrificing Irishmen, now 
defenceless, without organization or funds against 


their cruel enemies, which forced me and alone 
could have forced me to turn my eyes again 
to Irish affairs. I pointed out in vain to my corres- 
pondents in Ireland that any permanent cure must be a 
more radical one. The gradual discovery how the 
people had been tricked into the destruction of Land 
Purchase — the one sinister legislative achievement of 
" The Party " — was changing the public feeling from 
trustfulness to indignation, while the dozens of 
squalid family quarrels over the seats of the doomed 
members were spreading demoralization and decay 
by a process which had only to be allowed to proceed 
to bring the whole sordid tyranny to its appointed 
end. My return to the scene would, as had happened 
before, only give the Board of Erin a further respite 
by enabling them to turn away the attention of the 
country from their own dissensions by raising anew 
their odious sham battle-cries of " Unity ! " and 
" Majority Rule ! " The answer was that I alone 
stood between my friends and annihilation at the 
polls. To that appeal there could be but one answer. 
Just as I was struggling to my feet after a wearing 
illness of many months, my wife and myself left 
Florence in a train in which we were the only 
passengers on a forlorn night in December, with the 
still more forlorn feelings of a pair of escaped slaves 
recaptured and going back in chains to the Plantation. 
What happened after our arrival in Ireland has 
already been related (An Olive Branch in Ireland, 
Chapter XXII.), and need not detain us here. 
Enough that the fourteen men marked down for 
vengeance were one and all returned to Parliament 
and the cabal overthrown and disgraced. And to 
the comic surprise of the statesmen of the Board of 
Erin, the spirit they had summoned from the dead 
remained to haunt their banquet-tables and to pursue 
them to their Dunsinane. All we claimed now, or 
had claimed all along, was liberty of the platform 


and of the Press to submit to our countrymen 
opinions to which the only marvel of Irishmen of 
intelligence nowadays is how their wisdom could 
ever have been doubted. But the lesson of the 
General Election was the utter defencelessness of public 
liberty without some form of organization for mutual 
protection. The Hibernian Party thought to avenge 
their humiliations at the polls by excluding from 
their ranks the representatives of every constituency 
which had declined to obey their mandat <Telire and 
refusing them the Parliamentary indemnity for the 
payment of which the national funds in their custody 
had been subscribed. Even unfortunate Mr. Ginnell, 
who had never failed to follow the Party Whip into 
the Division lobbies, was by physical violence ejected 
from their meeting-place for suggesting a public 
audit of their funds, and a band of stalwarts was 
organized to give the same shrift to the rest of us, should 
we present ourselves for admission. But they need not 
have been perturbed. They had made their company 
impossible for men of honour. It was resolved to 
form, under the name of the All-for-Ireland League, 
a National organization, broad-based enough to 
embrace men of every denomination and school of 
Self-Government from the most moderate to the 
most advanced, for the cultivation of a National 
Unity higher and more sacred than the trade unity 
of any Party. The new movement was based upon 
those principles of " Conference, Conciliation, and 
Consent," which the Irish Party and the country had 
made their own in 1903 by every vow that could 
bind them — which had been re-affirmed by the 
violated Treaty of Reunion in 1908 — and which the 
reaction against a narrow Party tyranny already 
beginning to stir the country was bound to restore 
ultimately as the programme of a united nation. 
The resolution by which the All-for-Ireland League 
was established propounded as its primary aim " the 


union and active co-operation in every department of 
our national life of all Irishmen and women who 
believe in the principle of domestic self-government 
for Ireland," and for the accomplishment of its 
object declared : " We believe the surest means to 
be a combination of all the elements of the Irish 
population in a spirit of mutual tolerance and 
patriotic good-will such as shall guarantee to the 
Protestant minority of our fellow-countrymen in- 
violable security for all their rights and liberties, 
and win the friendship of the people of Great 
Britain, without distinction of Party." 




Perhaps the greatest of the disadvantages under 
which the All-for-Ireland League laboured from its 
birth was that the inaugural meeting could not have 
been held in Dublin. Here again it was miscon- 
ception and not unfriendliness that raised a difficulty 
but for which the course of contemporary Irish 
history might have taken a different turn and re- 
generated the National Movement without the sharp 
surgery of the Rising of Easter Week. The Sinn 
Fein movement of Mr. Arthur Griffith, in its purely 
intellectual and non-military stage, was beginning at 
this time to establish a wholesome supremacy in the 
Irish capital as the inevitable recoil from the cor- 
porate jobbery and venality of the Board of Erin 
reign. At my request Captain Shawe-Taylor, the 
originator of the Land Conference, and a fanatic in 
his passion for conciliation among Irishmen, waited 
on Mr. Griffith to invoke the aid of his organization 
in arranging an inaugural meeting of the All-for- 
Ireland League in Dublin, impressing upon him that 
the project would leave Sinn Fein, and all other 
schools of national thought, the widest liberty to 
develop on their own lines, provided they could see 
their way to combine for the formation of a great 
National confraternity of Irishmen from which the 
best ultimate solution and the most competent men 
to think it out would gradually be evolved. I was 
in a position to inform him that every section of 
Cork Nationalists — the Gaelic League, the Sinn 


Feiners (then only a handful, but an inestimable 
handful of diamonds x ), the Gaelic Athletic Associa- 
tion, and the Young Ireland Society, as well as the 
City Branch of the old United Irish League and the 
Land and Labour Association were joining with 
passionate eagerness in our preliminary meetings, 
and that nothing but a great inaugural rally in Dublin 
was wanting to give the movement a firm hold on 
the imagination of the country. Nor did I fail to 
make it clear that no contest of persons or of 
leadership was involved — that Lord Dunraven, Mr. 
Healy, and myself, for want of better, were willing 
to throw ourselves into the necessary inaugural work, 
but that nobody was more sensible than we of the 
drawbacks which old controversies had associated 
with our names, and that our truest hope was that 
out of the bands of ardent young Irishmen of all 
types and conditions who would flock to our free 
platform there would spring another Parnell with 
the youth, the ardour, and the high purpose to lead 
the Nation on to a future of nobler inspirations and 

Resolutions conceived in that spirit were sub- 
mitted to Mr. Griffith for approval or emendation. 
Captain Shawe-Taylor brought back the message 
that with our ideal Mr. Griffith was in cordial 
agreement, but that he and his friends could not 
consent to stand on the platform of the All-for- 
Ireland League unless there was added a resolution 
demanding the withdrawal of the representatives of 
Ireland from the Westminster Parliament. To do 
this, of course, would be to alienate nine-tenths of 
our sympathisers, and indeed to swallow our own 

1 Including the murdered Lord Mayors Terence MacSwiney 
and Tomas MacCurtain, and also Mr. J. J. Walsh, the Post- 
master General of the Irish Republican Government of 1916 
and of the Provisional Government of 1922. 


deepest convictions, which were that it was not 
Parliamentarianism, but only nerveless and corrupt 
Parliamentarianism, which had broken down. In 
the circumstances of that time, the Hungarian 
precedent, to which Mr. Griffith clung, would have 
left Ireland without defence at the mercy of the 
English Parliament, and indeed would have been 
flatly rejected by every constituency in the island, 
as it had already been at the only Irish election 
(Leitrim) where a Sinn Fein candidate had presented 
himself. Nothing less than the undreamt-of break- 
up of empires caused by the convulsions of the 
World-War could have opened the way to a policy, 
which, up to the outbreak of the war, seemed to dis- 
own the advantages both of an active representation at 
Westminster and of armed resistance in Ireland. 
Our movement, propounding no dogma of its own 
as to the ultimate bounds of Irish liberty, would 
have left Mr. Griffith at complete liberty to recom- 
mend his own doctrines ; but at the very start to 
impose them upon all comers would only have been 
to clear our platform of all but a minute intellectual 
minority. But without at least the benevolent 
neutrality of Sinn Fein, a successful start in Dublin 
was out of the question. 

Mr. Griffith's decision, in compelling us to 
transfer the inaugural meeting to Cork, gave the 
All-for-Ireland movement a certain sectional and 
provincial aspect, which the implacable foes of " the 
Cork accent " were not slow to exploit, and did 
much to increase the timidity of that Irish Protestant 
minority which a great Metropolitan meeting joyfully 
commingling Irishmen of all ranks and creeds 
would have dispelled. Mr. Griffith fatally over- 
estimated the growing popularity of Sinn Fein in 
Dublin. Whether or not he was throwing away his 
opportunity for an eventual peaceful triumph of his 
own movement, without the horrors, however 


glorious, or the chaos, however unavoidable, of the 
ten years that were to follow, it would be now idle 
to debate. What there is no disputing is that not 
very long after the All-for-Ireland League had been 
cut off from Dublin, and the Board of Erin thus 
relieved from their principal disquiet, the temporary 
success of Sinn Fein in the Dublin wards and in 
its Corporation began to waste away, before the 
renewed ascendancy of the Hibernians, and the Sinn 
Fein movement proper continued to decline year 
after year until there was little left of it except its 
name, when some English newspaper man hard up 
for a name to distinguish the " Irish Volunteers " of 
the Rising of 19 16 from Mr. Redmond's " National 
Volunteers " transferred the designation of Sinn 
Fein to the very different Republican movement 
which was presently to overflow the country. 

The All-for-Ireland movement, however, res- 
ponded to an instinct which no discouragements 
could withstand that some great change was a 
national necessity, and that it was coming. To such 
a depth had Freedom of the Press sunk in Dublin, 
that £60 had to be paid for the announcement of 
the existence of the League in one " Nationalist " 
daily newspaper, and even then the announcement 
was only admitted to its advertising columns, 
since as " news " the extent of the new movement 
must not be divulged. In the South, where the 
Cork Examiner, up to the time of its apostacy, had 
honestly reported our speeches, the Nationalists of 
Cork and the adjoining counties of every hue and 
section were overwhelmingly friendly. The farmers 
whom the policy of Conciliation plus Business had 
almost universally established as owners, the labourers 
who, thanks to its operations, had come into possession 
of many thousands of cosy cottages and allotments, the 
young men of vision who if they would go further 
than we somehow felt that our ideals could lead to 


nothing base were all ready for the signal — all 
except the placemen, actual or expectant. The 
Southern Unionists were almost as universally 
friendly. Until quite recently, the extent to which 
the principles of national fraternity were permeating 
the Irish Protestant minority, although confidentially 
known to us, was unsuspected by the general public, 
for unluckily these men, long withdrawn from active 
politics and living with their families often in remote 
districts where they were open to Hibernian intimi- 
dation, and, above all, disheartened by the vilification 
with which the first notable Unionist converts to the 
principle of self-government were pelted by Mr. 
Dillon and his newspaper, were not to be got to 
declare themselves on the public platforms until it 
was too late to make their adhesion duly valued. 

This was the difficulty hinted at by Lord 
Rossmore — once the Grand Master of the Orange 
Order in County Monaghan, and one not to be 
daunted by abuse from continuing to be to the day 
of his death as genial a Home Ruler as he had been 
a militant Ulster Unionist — in a letter enclosing a 
subscription of £ 10 to the new League : 

" I wish I was a richer man to put another o to 
my cheque. I assure you that my unwillingness is 
not the reason I do not do so. If everyone who 
really agrees with the A. F. I. League did according 
to their means, what I am willingly and openly 
doing, the League would not want long for funds." 

It was the same sense of the lack of moral 
courage among his brother Unionists which, as much 
as the rabid hostility of the Hibernians, moved Lord 
Dunraven, in a personal letter to myself, to this 
rather alarming estimate of the magnitude of the 
enterprise before the new League : 

" Adare Manor. 

" February 9. 

" My dear Mr. O'Brien, — You are on a venture 


as desperate as any undertaken by fabled knights of 
old for the destruction of dragons and the rescue of 
damsels in distress. I am sure you have the well 
wishes and sympathy of every honest and common- 
sense man in Ireland. 

" Yours sincerely, 


In his public letter to the inaugural meeting, 
however, he nailed the green flag to his masthead 
and kept it flying there usque ad noctem with the 
intrepidity of the old yachtsman " pleased with the 
danger when the waves went high." An extract 
from it ought to be preserved as depicting the type 
of patriotic Irish Protestant who. for being a patriot, 
was traduced by Hibernian speakers and writers with 
a virulence never attempted against Sir Edward 
Carson : 

" These three essentials (self-government, com- 
pletion of Land Purchase, and protection against 
over-taxation) can be attained only by Irish men 
and women working for them patiently, strenuously, 
and honestly, so far as they conscientiously can, and 
I am very sure that the vast majority can join hand 
in hand in working out the salvation of the country, 
if only they have the charity and courage to put 
aside paltry prejudice and follow the dictates of their 
hearts. The opposite policy has been tried now for 
years, and with what result ? Land Purchase is 
dead, over- taxation has been condoned, and control 
of our own affairs is further off than ever. I do not 
wish to go into personal matters, but I may say this : 
For myself I have honestly tried to help my country 
without reference to Party. I supported the Liberal 
Party in their land policy so far as it went and I 
opposed their Treasury Relief Bill. I opposed the 
Conservatives in their efforts to stultify Ireland by 
grossly exaggerating crime and disorder, and I 


supported them in their land legislation. I did what 
I could in the matter of reinstatement of evicted 
tenants, in legislation for labourers and in respect of 
University Education, with the result, so far as I 
can see, of exasperating those who hate reconciliation 
and who spurn the assistance of Irishmen who dis- 
approve of their tactics. That may be a matter of 
indifference to me, but not to Ireland, for such 
methods stifle nationality. A great opportunity was 
lost at the time of the Land Conference when the 
spirit of reconciliation and its first fruit, the Land 
Act of 1903, was denounced. The Act has been 
killed. By one man at any rate it has been bravely 
upheld. One man had the clear vision to see what 
Conciliation might do, one man has stuck manfully 
to his guns and has fought a strenuous fight against 
tremendous odds, and that man is the senior member 
for Cork City. This Cause is a righteous one. It 
is the Cause of common sense, of knowledge, of 
charity. It appeals to all that is best and truest in 
the hearts of the people. It is the cause I will 
support as long as I can and to the best of my 

Desperate as was the venture, in face of a still 
unshaken Hibernian despotism, the aloofness of Sinn 
Fein, and the suspicions of the Protestant minority, 
many of the finest spirits among the Irish nobles 
and captains of industry associated themselves openly 
from the first with the fortunes of the All-for- Ireland 
League — Lord Castletown of Upper Ossory, Mr. 
Moreton Frewen, Captain H. Sheehy-Keating of the 
Irish Guards (killed at Mons), Colonel Hutcheson 
Poe, Sir John Keane, of Cappoquin, Mr. Villiers 
Stuart, of Dromana, Lord Rossmore, Mr. Richard E. 
Longfield, d.l., of Longueville, Sir Timothy O'Brien, 
Mr. Lindsay Talbot Crosbie, of Ardfert, Alderman 
Richard Beamish (High Sheriff of Cork City), Lord 
Monteagle — heads of historic Irish houses breathing 


a patriotism no less sincere, if as yet more subdued 
in words than the most fire-tried of the veteran 
Nationalists who flocked to our banner — the last of 
the grey-haired old Fenians of Rebel Cork or the 
venerable National poet, Mr. T. D. Sullivan, 
the author of " God Save Ireland," whose last 
speech in life was spoken at the inaugural meet- 
ing in Cork. There were sympathisers in far 
larger numbers who were known to be only 
awaiting a propitious hour to declare them- 
selves, and at last (although too tardily) have done 
so — men like Lord Shaftesbury, who had been thrice 
Lord Mayor of Belfast and was Chancellor of the 
Belfast University, the Protestant Archbishop of 
Dublin (Dr. Bernard), Lord Powerscourt, Sir John 
Arnott, Canon Flewett, the Rector of Mallow, Sir 
Jocelyn Coghill, Lord Oranmore and Browne, Lord 
Kenmare, Lord Bandon, h.m.l., Dean Grierson 
(afterwards Bishop of Down and Connor), Professor 
Butcher, m.p., Professor Trench, ll.d., and Lord 
Barrymore himself, who had been the Samson 
Agonistes of Irish landlordism in its last battles, 
and whose coming over, one of the achievements of 
my life of which I am proudest, was, of course, 
imputed to me as the inexpiable sin against the 
Holy Ghost. It is certain further that the movement 
commanded the secret sympathy of some of the 
most potent statesmen of Britain in both Parties — 
Lord Loreburn (Lord Chancellor), Mr. Bryce, Lord 
Morley, 1 Lord Eversley (once Mr. Shaw-Lefevre), 

1 " In speaking in the House of Lords, I alluded to the opinion 
expressed by Mr. Bonar Law, by the Postmaster General, and by 
the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in favour of settlement by 
Conference. I said that being the case why on earth don't you 
attempt to try to make a settlement through Conference and 
consent ? I was interrupted by Lord Morley. He said : ' Yes, 
a settlement by consent, but on the lines ? ' — ' Well, on what 
lines ? ' — ■ On the lines,' he said, ' suggested by Mr. William 
O'Brien.' " — Speech by Lord Dunraven, March 1, 1913. 


Mr. John Burns, Sir Edward Grey, Lord Haldane, 
and Mr. Thomas Burt, the first of the Labour 
leaders, among the Liberals, and amongst Unionists, 
Earl Grey (the Governor- General of Canada), Lord 
Carnarvon, son of the Lord Carnarvon, a famous 
Tory Viceroy in Ireland, who was a Home Ruler 
thirty-seven years before his Party and was as 
scurvily betrayed by Lord Salisbury as was George 
Wyndham twenty-four years after him, Mr. Walter 
Long, a man much maligned by " The Party " as 
an anti-Irish Conservative but for all that has been 
said to the contrary as romantic a lover of Ireland 
as his mother's Irish blood could make him as well 
as a straightforward English gentleman, of whom I 
think it is no libel to report that from the start he 
declared : "I shall have to oppose Home Rule as 
it stands, but I will only oppose it from the lips 
out " — even it must in justice be recorded Mr. 
F. E. Smith (now Lord Birkenhead), who had not 
yet been beguiled into his adventures as " Galloper " 
in the Covenanting Army of Sir E. Carson. I speak 
without personal knowledge, when I add to the list 
Lord Lansdowne, in at least a shy tentative way 
(his son, the Earl of Kerry, has just accepted a seat 
in the Free State Senate) ; and I should not, I 
imagine, be very wide of the mark, if I were to use 
the most august British name of all. 1 

1 From the Editor of a London Unionist morning newspaper, 
the name of which wculd now sound startlingly (it was not 
The Times), I received a letter heavily marked " Secret and 
Confidential," under date " April 29th, 1910," in which he wrote : 

" My friend, Mr has to-day had a long confidential talk 

with me, and as a result I have advised him to see you without 
delay. He has a proposal of importance to put before you. I 
have no hesitation in asking you to give him an opportunity of 

discussing it fully with you. Mr. has approached me in 

strict confidence in my private capacity, but I have, of course, 
assured myself of the bona fides and straightforwardness of his 
proposal before giving him this letter to you, though the fact 
that the proposal came through him was a guarantee of both. 


Lord Midleton and the Irish nobles and country 
gentlemen, who were afterwards to follow him into 
the Anti-Partition League were not yet heard of. 
Sir Horace Plunkett (to my deep disappointment) 
could not be induced to discover any genuine 
sympathy with Home Rule, of which he ultimately 
conceived himself to be the father. The vast 
country meetings of magistrates under the presidency 
of their respective Lords Lieutenant — the weighty de- 
clarations of Chambers of Commerce, professional men 
and masters of industry in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, 
which unfortunately waited for Sinn Fein to make in 
1920 the professions of faith which would have been 
priceless in 191 1 — all were secretly in sympathy, but 
stood tongue-tied while we were treading the wine- 
press all alone. Had these tremendous forces only 
boldly shown themselves in 191 1, as they did after 
the bloody lesson of 19 16 — had the occasion produced 
some new Irish leader with the magic of command 
— and had not King Edward the Peacemaker been 
untimely cut off — who will now doubt that Irish 
freedom must have been won without the firing of 
a shot and with all the unity and multiform strength 
that would have been derived from the effacement of 
racial and religious antagonisms ? It was not to be. 
The response on all sides was secretly friendly, but 
it was the response of Felix, the Roman Governor : 
" I shall send for you again when I find an opportune 
time." We were sent for again, but — the pity of 
it ! — it was at the most inopportune of times when 

As Editor of the I have no knowledge of the matter, 

as a private individual the proposal has my sympathy as an honest 

attempt on 's part to assist a cause which he has deeply at 

heart." A few days after the receipt of this letter King Edward 
the Peacemaker was dead. A week later I received another letter 
from the Editor stating that the death of King Edward had made 
it useless to carry the matter further and that the mysterious 
visitor had given up his mission to Ireland. What the " proposal 
of importance " was, I have never heard since. 


the mischief had all been done. The Irish people, 
uninformed of the truth, pointed to the small number 
of Irish Unionists on our platforms as a proof of 
the hopelessness of the task of conciliating them ; 
and the Irish Unionists, however secretly willing, 
recoiled from speaking out, with the example before 
their eyes of the ferocious maltreatment accorded to 
those of their brethren who had been the first to 
burn their boats. In that vicious circle, the country 
was forced to revolve until the opportunity was lost. 
But it was an enterprise nobly worth " all the cost 
and the pain," for to the policy of " Conference, 
Conciliation, and Consent " is traceable the whole 
course of events which made Lord Midleton and his 
friends in the House of Lords fast friends of Home 
Rule, and brought Sir James Craig into friendly 
conference with Mr. Michael Collins, and Mr. Lloyd 
George into still friendlier conferences with " The 
Murder Gang," to whom he proffered the extremest 
form of Irish liberty short of a Republicin name 
as well as substance. 




We have seen that the Liberal-Hibernian alliance of 
the Parliament of 1906 achieved nothing better for 
Ireland than the repeal of the great Act of 1903 
and the stoppage of Land Purchase in the interest 
of the English Treasury. In the Parliament of 
191 1, we have now to examine a phenomenon more 
incomprehensible still — viz., the destruction of Home 
Rule and of the Parliamentary movement as the net 
result for Ireland of the same ill-fated Liberal- 
Hibernian combination. And the wrong to Ireland 
is the harder to explain, that, whereas the first 
government of Mr. Asquith was pledged not to 
introduce a Home Rule Bill, and had still the House 
of Lords to quote as an excuse for all its failures, 
Mr. Asquith's Government of 191 1 was elected with 
the express mandate to give " full self-government to 
Ireland," and the House of Lords had been stripped 
of its Veto. Sir E. Carson's Covenanting Army of 
Ulster was not yet in existence, and it seemed as if 
no mismanagement open to human folly could well 
stop the course of the victorious Anglo-Irish majority. 
Furthermore, Irish pride has to bear the humiliation 
of confessing that this series of disasters was due in 
a lesser degree to any conscious perfidy on the part 
of the Liberal leaders than to the culpable com- 
plaisance of Ireland's own representatives. 

It may be worth while to essay some explanation 
of a helplessness so deeply wounding to our reputa- 
tion as a nation. To begin with, the common run 
of the people have to be ruled out of calculation 


altogether. For reasons that this book will make 
clear, they were deprived of all real knowledge of 
what was going on and were lulled into a state of 
enchantment in which in the very excess of their 
yearning for " Unity " they allowed Party Unity to 
be turned into an instrument of immeasurable 
misfortune for the nation, and went on pathetically 
chanting the litany of " Trust Asquith " and " Trust 
Redmond " until the movement of Parnell had 
perished. The bulk of " The Party " were little 
better informed, and were as honest victims of the 
hypnosis as they were unfitted for their high office. 
The mischief is to be traced to the infatuation of not 
more than four or five Irish politicians, and it will 
long remain one of the riddles of history how men 
who are not to be suspected of conscious personal dis- 
honour, nor denied either capacity or patriotic records, 
nevertheless allowed themselves to be beguiled into 
a series of disservices to Ireland which could not 
well have brought more harm in their train if they 
had been the work of their nation's worst enemies. 
The fault of the titular leader of the Party was a 
passive one, but for that very reason was destructive 
of his usefulness as a leader. He made no disguise 
in private of the fact that the whole course of policy 
which he was supposed to direct was one of which 
he deeply disapproved, and that the policy which he 
consented to anathematise in public as factionism 
was one which he would gladly have made his own, 
could he have dared. His famous apohthegm — 
" Better be united on a short-sighted and foolish 
policy than divided on a far-seeing and wise one " — 
will live as the explanation of his fated failure as a 
leader, and of the suicide, so to say, of his fine 
abilities. He preserved the mechanical Party Unity 
which enabled the Board of Erin to dominate and ruin 
the " constitutional " movement, and he sacrificed 
the National Unitv to which he knew that sectarian 


secret society to be the insurmountable obstacle. It 
is the shrewd religion of Mid-Africa (and elsewhere) 
to offer sacrifice to the bad gods on the calculation 
that the good ones will do one no harm. Mr. 
Redmond was a good deal addicted to that form of 
worship in his dealings with the powers of Hiber- 
nianism. The bad gods accepted his oblations with 
gracious nostrils, until their turn came to be strong 
enough to immolate him themselves at the Lloyd 
George Convention. 

Even of the three men who originated the revolt 
against the policy of Conciliation plus Business, 
nobody in Ireland said a hurtful word of Mr. Davitt's 
scruples as a Land Nationalize^ and long before his 
death he was manifesting his bewitching readiness to 
acknowledge his mistakes of judgment, while Mr. 
Sexton had he stood alone was of a jealous and 
uncertain temper, wont to give more uneasiness to 
his friends than to his adversaries. 1 He was of those 
reasoners who baffle Reason, and of those financiers 
who bedevil figures by conjuring with them. He 
demonstrated with irrefragable logic and perfect 
nonsense that the Irish farmers had only to boycott 
the Act of 1903 to obtain the land at 13! years 
purchase. No sooner did the country realize that all 
his brilliant actuarial calculations in the Freeman had 
resulted in the destruction of Land Purchase by means 
of the English Treasury Bill glorified in his leading 

1 Lord Morley remarked to Sir Algernon West, " Sexton and 
Dillon, good and honest but always feminine and impatient " 
{Private Diaries of Sir Algernon West, p. 295). This particular 
censuie of Dillon was as much mistaken as Morley's judgments 
of Irish affairs usually were, but of Sexton's little pets and whimsies 
nobody who knew him under the surface will question the 
accuracy of the description. Sexton himself better hit the blot 
in Dillon's make-up as a leader when he once asked : " Has 
Dillon no friend intimate enough to give him a hint that the first 
person singular is not the only case of the Personal Pronoun ? " 


articles and thrust upon the country by the Baton 
Convention than the circulation of his paper went to 
pieces, and he abandoned the failing concern before 
it had yet openly invoked the protection of the 
Bankruptcy Court, and Mr. Sexton was not heard 
of again in public affairs. 

Mr. T. P. O'Connor in his fathomless ignorance 
of Ireland and honest faith in Mr. Dillon was 
another of the " determined campaigners " against 
the National Policy, but " T. P." was all his life an 
English politician with a genial Connacht accent, 
and in Ireland mattered not at all. Mr. Devlin, who 
in the early stages of the conspiracy was of little 
account outside the dismal theatre of Belfast riots, 
had by this time emerged from the shadows of the 
secret society he was to make the master of the 
country, and had gained possession of the triple 
power of paid Secretary of the United Irish League, 
National President of the Board of Erin Order of 
Hibernians, and Member of Parliament, and was 
already wielding the weapons of a pugnacious 
demagogue by which he compelled Mr.. Redmond 
to repudiate the Irish Council Bill, and which long 
afterwards enabled him to inflict upon the same 
unhappy leader that defeat at the Lloyd George 
Irish Convention of 1917 from which Mr. Redmond 
tragically dragged himself away to his death-bed. 
But even at the time at which we have arrived, the 
baleful power of the Board of Erin had not yet 
sufficiently taken possession of the country to supply 
more than physical force to give practical effect to 
Mr. Dillon's words. 

It was Mr Dillon's own personality and the 
respect inspired chiefly, it is curious to remember, by 
his austere devotion to the highly " unconstitutional " 
doctrines of the John Mitchel school, which he once 
professed and which he was afterwards to repudiate 
with so lofty a constitutional mien — this was the 


force which alone could have saved the original 
mutiny against the national will from flickering out 
in a fit of temper. He had now got hold of the 
Party and its leader, and with amazing audacity had 
made the cause of " Unity " and " Majority Rule " 
his own ; and to his success above all other things 
the misfortunes of the succeeding years must be 
accounted. Concerning human motives, who shall 
make bold enough to lay down dogmas ? It would 
be absurd to hold Mr. Dillon immune from the 
vanities and jealousies which are never altogether 
missing in the character of the best men who are 
politicians, or, for that matter, of most men and 
women who are not. The chance which excluded 
him from the Land Conference, and the fact that, 
to the amazement of all men, it succeeded without 
him, must unquestionably be credited with a good 
deal of the soreness which clouded his judgment, 
without at all lessening our indulgence for the 
human frailty which is the badge of all our tribe 
But any suggestion that it was motives of this 
pettiness which really determined the action of an 
Irish leader in a crisis of the first magnitude for his 
country is one of the last that could occur to one 
like the present writer, who from the outset regarded 
John Dillon as, next to Parnell, the most romantic 
figure in contemporary affairs, who, when Parnell 
would gladly have retired in his own favour, insisted 
upon Dillon in his stead, and, when Parnell was 
gone, never ceased to press Mr. Dillon's claims 
upon his countrymen until his more substantial 
qualifications for leadership had been exhaustively 
tried out and found wanting. 

A simpler explanation is at hand — one which, 
however little to the credit of his judgment, is a 
perfect vindication of his consistency. The ground- 
work of Mr. Dillon's political creed was the belief 
that the strength of the National Cause depended 


upon the acuteness of the struggle for the land, and 
that whatever diminished the agrarian discontent 
and turmoil which he regarded as the driving- 
force of agitation aimed a mortal blow at Ireland's 
independence. " Keep the pot boiling " — the advice 
he once addressed to a Roscommon audience — did 
truly, if a little coarsely, embody his faith as to the 
only means of warfare available. " I have been a 
destructive politician all my life," was his boast on 
another occasion. There was so much to be des- 
troyed before the reconstruction of a happy Irish 
nation could be commenced that up to a certain 
point this was also the programme of every patriotic 
man. His error lay in failing to see that once that 
point was passed, and a noble career of constructive 
work opened up before the country, his activity as 
a " destructive politician " consisted for the rest of 
his life in the destruction of his nation's hopes and 
the perpetuation of unrest and turmoil for mere 
turmoil -sake. In a word, he read only the half of 
the words of the Wise Man : "A time to destroy 
and a time to build." Not to allow the land war to 
be ended lest prosperity should kill the demand for 
freedom — not to give up the parade of the country's 
sores as a means of exciting British sympathy or the 
weapons of agrarian disturbance as the only means 
of making the bed of English rulers a thorny one — 
always seemed to me an ignoble doctrine of Irish 
patriotism — even a very wicked one if the amount of 
human misery it involved to keep the politicians in 
ammunition were fully present to the mind that 
conceived it, as, of course, it was not. More than 
that, it was a fundamentally false doctrine and 
proceeded from a deep-down want of faith in Irish 
nationality. It may be that in Mr. Dillon's case it 
was traceable to his early association with a part of 
the country which was every other year smitten with 
potato-failures, famines, evictions, and the basest forms 


of oppression from a class of landlords scarcely less 
abject than their serfs. It was not perhaps unnatural 
if he concluded that a people who lived in a body- 
and-soul-destroying poverty such as that in the 
hungry fight for the bare life would have little leisure 
left for the finer instincts of manhood and national 
sentiment to assert themselves. Men with a deeper 
knowledge of the Irish nature knew that it was 
precisely those counties which were best educated, 
most prosperous, and most emancipated from depen- 
dence upon the landlords which were chiefly the 
recruiting grounds and fortresses in every fight for 
Ireland. Mr. Dillon was to live to see the final 
confutation of his poor opinion of the hold of 
nationality on the Irish peasant when Landlordism, 
with its evictions and oppressions, having almost 
passed away from every part of the country which 
had not followed his advice, it was the sons of the 
farmers turned freeholders who were amongst the 
most daring of the insurgents who confronted 
England from 19 16 to 1921 with the most formidable 
and stubborn warfare that ever shook her rule in- 
Ireland. But the sincerity of his conviction that 
the success of the National Cause depended upon 
keeping the wounds of the land war open is beyond 
dispute. At every crisis of the land struggle he took 
precisely the same ground. It is only just to his 
perverse consistency to recall that Mr. Dillon, at the 
head of " The Kilmainham Party," was as sharp a 
thorn in Parnell's flesh in 1881 as he was in our 
own in 1903. When Gladstone's Land Act of 
1 88 1 changed the Irish tenant-at-will into a co- 
proprietor, whose share of the property was worth 
more than the landlord's — a concession of immeasu- 
rable value in those days — Mr. Dillon publicly 
declared : "I will recall your attention to the fact 
that when the Land Bill was first made public I 
immediately adopted an attitude of uncompromising 


hostility towards it and used whatever influence I 
had to secure that it should be rejected with 
contempt. ... I say here I believe that if this 
Bill passes into law, more especially if it passes into 
law tolerated or countenanced by the League, it will 
in the course of a few months take all the power 
out of the arm of the Land League," and he quitted 
Ireland for three years rather than attorn to 
Parnell's policy of cautiously testing the Act. As 
Forster cried havoc against Parnell's plans for 
testing the Act of 1881, Mr. Dillon and the Freeman 
had made shipwreck of our own machinery for 
testing the Act of 1903. To Wilfrid Blunt he 
avowed that he would dearly have liked to 
throw out the Wyndham Bill of 1903 altogether, 
although he made a show of speaking in its favour, 
giving again the same reason as in 1881 : " The 
land trouble is a weapon in Nationalist hands and 
to settle it would be to risk Home Rule." On the 
day when the Bill passed its Third Reading he told 
the famous Irish-American statesman, Bourke 
Cockran, in the lobby of the House of Commons 
that " if the Bill were allowed to work there would 
be an end of the national cause before twelve 
months." The prediction was in almost exactly the 
same words as his prediction of twenty-three years 
before, and his forebodings turned out to be still 
more groundless ; but there was the same tenacious 
belief from decade to decade that the passion of 
Irish Nationality was too feeble to survive any 
wholesale improvement in the material condition of 
the people. 1 Put thus bluntly, the doctrine that you 

1 His public avowal of his deliberate design to cut the people 
off from the relief afforded by the Act was one of the most 
extraordinary ever made by a Parliamentary representative : 

" It has been said that we have delayed the reinstatement of 
the evicted tenants and obstructed the smooth working of the 
Act. I wish to Heaven we had the power to obstruct the smooth 
working of the Act more than we have. It has worked too 


must keep millions of men in misery if you want 
to make them free would seem almost too fantastic 
to be shocking. But that was nevertheless the 
underlying meaning of the determination that the 
Act of 1903 must not " be allowed to work," and 
that the co-operation of Irish classes and communions 
in which it originated must not be allowed to extend 
itself. So little was the hostility to Land Purchase 
motived by any genuine belief in its financial injustice 
that after seven years even of such " working " as 
the Act had received in spite of him, Mr. Dillon 
confided to the same Wilfrid Blunt in 1910 that " it 

smoothly — far too smoothly, to my mind. . . . Some men have 
complained that the Land Act is not working fast enough. For 
my part I look upon it as working a great deal too fast. Its pace 
has been ruinous to the people."— (Speech at Swinford, September 
12, 1906.) 

His character for sincerity is not enhanced by the probability 
that this gross misjudgment of the Act was only a cover to conceal 
by a show of concern for the people's practical interests his real 
grounds for hatred of the Act, but dubious as is the compliment, 
there cannot be much doubt that what he was thinking of was 
not that the prices were excessive, but that the success of the 
Act would be ruinous to the National Cause. 

Here is the judgment of an Irish-American publicist of 
distinction, Rev. Father Owen B. McGuire, of the Act which 
Mr. Dillon wished he had the power of obstructing, and which 
he elsewhere described as " mortgaging the future of Ireland to 
our hereditary enemies," and as a measure bound to end in 
" National Bankruptcy." 

" I have always maintained that the Land Act of 1903 was 
the greatest victory since the Battle of Clontarf. The Norse 
power was finally broken at Clontarf. The Anglo-Norman power 
was broken by the victory of 1903. The Irish people as a result 
are coming gradually into possession of the land of Ireland. The 
foreign garrison is gradually disappearing. Those who remain, 
no longer dependent for their position or their property on an 
alien power, will be absorbed eventually by the nation and will 
become Irish. The Norman invasion in its essence has been 
undone by the Act of 1903, It may take some years yet to 
complete the work, but complete victory is as certain as 
to-morrow's dawn." — (Irish World, September 24, 1921.) 


had changed the whole character of the peasantry, 
and instead of being careless, idle, and improvident 
had made them like the French peasantry, indus- 
trious and economical, even penurious." But all 
that, so far from shaking his belief in his own mission 
of destruction, only made him frankly lament his 
failure to prevent the transformation and confirmed 
him in the stern duty not at any cost to allow an 
equally happy Home Rule settlement by consent or 
by any except " the old methods " and by " doses 
of the old medicine." No more cruel reproof of 
Mr. Dillon could well be devised than that he 
should be compelled to re-read his own prophecies 
of bankruptcy and ruin from the Act of 1903, and 
then read the announcement of Mr. P. J. Hogan, 
the Minister of Agriculture of the Irish Provisional 
Government (September 20, 1922), after twenty 
years' experience of the Land Purchase Act which 
was denounced as " a landlord swindle " doomed to 
" end in National Insolvency. " : 

" There was still a real land trouble and that was 
he problem of completing Land Purchase, which 
must be solved at the first opportunity." 

How little the verdict of time and of judges 
prepossessed by every tie of affection in his favour 
had shaken the self-satisfaction of the hapless leader 
who had killed Land Purchase and Home Rule and 
led his Party to its grave, may be judged from his 
own calm retrospect of his achievements in a public 
letter dated so late as April 29, 1921 : 

" I see you fully appreciate the horrible character 
of the task I undertook. But looking back on the 
whole matter in the light of what has happened 
since, I see nothing to regret. If I were faced with 
the same circumstances, I should do again as I then 
did. There was just one off-chance of saving the 
country from all it has suffered during the last three 
years. The Government destroyed that chance by 


passing the Conscription Act and by arresting the 
Sinn Fein leaders during the Cavan election. And 
they did this in the teeth of repeated warnings from 
me of what the result of such action would be. 

" I also foresaw and warned the Sinn Fein 
leaders of what the people would be up against if 
they persisted in their campaign to win a Republic 
by violence. So that I should have the melancholy 
satisfaction of feeling that I am free of any shred of 
responsibility for what is now going on in Ireland." 

It would be cruel to discuss the " melancholy 
satisfaction " with which he looks back upon his 
work of " saving the country " by killing Land 
Purchase and Home Rule and his Party to boot. 

Nevertheless, so perfectly honest was Mr. Dillon's 
devotion to la politique du pire — the policy that 
making things worse was the only way of making 
them better — that in the month following his above 
extraordinary confession of faith (that is to say, in 
May 1 921) he followed it up, on the occasion of a 
friendly meeting between President De Valera and 
Sir James Craig in which all other men saw reason 
for rejoicing and for a conciliatory temper, with a 
public manifesto in which Mr. Dillon found nothing 
better to contribute to the peace of a distracted 
country than an announcement that he " was irre- 
concilably opposed to the programme and methods of 
the Republican Party," and that he and his Party 
would presently return to resume command of the 
situation ! As wrong-headed as you please, but 
pathetic in its consistency to the last with the work 
of his life. 

The lack of imagination broad enough to take in 
the vision of a nation reconstructed by the coming 
together of all her sons was Mr. Dillon's fatal 
drawback as a national leader. That in an all but 
miraculous opportunity of realizing such a unity, he 
should see nothing but " compromise," treachery, 


foul plotting, and a reason for bitterer divisions than 
ever among Irish classes and parties, can only be 
accounted for by a habit of suspiciousness which 
was his substitute for the higher imaginative powers. 
His first conception of any new idea was sure to be 
the wrong one. He wholly misconceived the Plan 
of Campaign at its first presentation. It was long 
before he overcame his first suspicion that the United 
Irish League was a conspiracy hatched by Davitt 
and myself for the establishment of an Irish Republic 
by force of arms. The success of the Land 
Conference was so unexpected and the prospect of 
still wider national harmony it opened up was so 
amazing, he might have been excused for his first 
exclamation on landing in Ireland after two months 
absence that he found himself in a new country . 
Less excusable than his slowness of apprehension 
was that in the revolution effected by old colleagues 
to whom he owed much and who had given hostages 
of their Nationality not less genuine than his own 
he should discern nothing but a national catastrophe, 
and one organized not by incapables merely, but by 

That was, nevertheless, the line to which he 
ultimately drifted. The first relief to his feelings 
came in abuse and misrepresentation of the land- 
lords who had led the way to the abdication of their 
class and of the Chief Secretary and Under-Secretary 
who had made the operation possible. Nobody can 
peruse any public speech of his in those years 
without coming across passages which the country 
had later on bitter reason to lament had ever been 
spoken — passages reeking with virulent racial and 
class prejudices which can scarcely have been quite 
sincerely felt, and directed of all men against those 
Irish Unionists who had been foremost in striving to 
divest their class of all the ancient causes of division. 
These were, unfortunately, the class of attacks not 


only most devastating in their effect upon the hope 
of winning the minority to the new policy, but the 
most likely to be popular in a country which was 
only the other year locked in mortal combat with 
the hated territorial class. As long as it was only 
a question of blocking Land Purchase, it was easy 
enough to find an audience for invectives the most 
lurid against " the wolfish greed of the landlords." 
The unthinking might even be gulled into listening 
while they were assured that what was really the 
highest recommendation of the Land Conference 
Agreement covered some black crime against Ireland ; 
for the extraordinary grievance of the Land Purchase 
killers was that it contented the landlords and the 
tenants alike ; that, not only were the tenants' prices 
favourable beyond belief, but " the English garrison " 
of old were guaranteed a comfortable livelihood in 
their native land and consequently placed above any 
temptation to act as " the English garrison " ever 
again. But the malcontents had to take up new 
ground when the expropriated landlords justified the 
calculations of the Land Conference by manifesting 
a desire to join in the movement for Home Rule. 
Their declaration for Home Rule, as to which Mr. 
Redmond joyfully cabled from America : " It is 
quite a wonderful thing ; with these men with us, 
Home Rule may come at any moment," threw 
Mr. Dillon into a fit of indignation even fiercer than 
their consent to the abolition of Landlordism had 
done. To counteract the movement which his own 
leader received with transports of joy, he fell back 
upon new and more desperate allegations and inven- 
tions, the wickedness of which, if they were not the 
hallucinations of a sick brain, nothing could redeem. 
I The country, which was already growing cold to 
theMaily wail of the Freeman that Land Purchase 
spelt National Insolvency, had now to be worked up 
into a genuine alarm by bloodcurdling revelations that 


the cause of the nation was sold, and that a deep-laid 
plot was on foot to betray the Party and the Freeman 
and the national movement into the hands of 
swindling ex-landlords and Dublin Castle Unionists. 
Worst of all, to give the new plot any verisimilitude, 
it had to be at first insinuated, and in the long run 
brutally proclaimed, that the conspiracy of the 
Wyndhams and Dunravens and Sir Antony Mac- 
Donnells to supplant the Irish Party, buy up the 
Nationalist constituencies, and capture the Freeman's 
Journal by a base Stock Exchange " deal," had the 
traitorous support of powerful Nationalist accomplices. 
It was especially against one of these, who, as it 
happened, had been for half a lifetime Mr. Dillon's 
most intimate friend, and to whom he was indebted 
for his first period of leadership, that " all the guns of 
Tipperary had now to be turned against O'Brien " 
(to use the Christian language of a Southern minister 
of peace of the funny name of Father Innocent Ryan) 
in campaign after campaign destined to make any 
accommodation between Mr. Redmond and myself 
impossible. Each and every one of these atrocious 
allegations, of course, turned out to be " a false, 
defamatory and malicious libel," and were so declared 
by a jury of Mr. Dillon's countrymen. For most of 
us onslaughts based on grounds so grotesquely untrue 
might only have raised a smile. There was a dinner 
party at Dublin Castle at which Wyndham, Lord 
Dunraven, Sir Antony MacDonnell, and " a powerful 
Nationalist " (as to whose identity there could be no 
doubt) plotted the destruction of the Irish Party and 
the substitution of a loyalist " Centre Party " to 
which the " powerful Nationalist " undertook to turn 
over 1 8 Nationalist constituencies. There was a 
still more awful tale of a villainous Stock Exchange 
" deal " of Wyndham and his accomplices to buy 
over and silence the faithful Freeman. As it 
happened, I was able to mention in the witness-box 


that I had never exchanged a word with Wyndham 
unless across the floor of the House of Commons, 
and up to that moment had never met Lord Dun- 
raven except in Mr. Redmond's company, and that 
the guilty dinner was a coinage of Mr. Dillon's brain. 
The famous Stock Exchange deal turned out still 
more disastrously for the mythomaniacs. It was the 
case of the Hon. Charles Russell, the loyallest of 
Liberals, proposing to buy some Freeman shares as a 
business investment for a client of whom he was the 
trustee, and to place the shares in the name of Mr. 
Redmond, to which Mr. Sexton, like the faithful 
follower that he was of his " trusted leader " (to 
whom he had refused to speak since the Parnell 
Split), point blank demurred, unless the shares were 
placed in the name of that other loyal Redmondite, 
Mr. Dillon, instead ! But even with the verdict, 
" false, defamatory, and malicious libellers," branded 
across their foreheads, the mythomaniacs went gaily 
on, and for long years afterwards held a credulous 
country in their thrall. But a danger far graver was 
that, in a country deprived of all means of hearing 
our answer, the reiteration of such charges by a 
responsible leader did succeed in arousing among 
the uninstructed a genuine National alarm, with the 
result that all toleration was refused to the infant 
Home Rule movement which was beginning to stir 
in the Irish Unionist body. Such were the legends 
— which would have been comically if they were 
not wickedly false — which for the next ten years 
were to deceive Ireland and Britain in their judgment 
of what was happening in Ireland, and to deepen 
the distrust of the Protestants and Presbyterians 
of Ulster into something like a loathing for their 
Catholic countrymen. 

There is one other aid towards understanding 
Mr. Dillon's almost personal resentment of friend- 
liness to Ireland so long as it came from the 


Unionists. He was an hereditary Liberal of the 
Manchester school. His father, who had survived 
his dreams of the Young Ireland cycle, fell under 
the charm of John Bright's eloquent courtship of 
Ireland — the first accents of affection that had fallen 
from English lips since the early speeches of Charles 
Fox — and spent his declining years under the re- 
frigerating influence of Cardinal Cullen as his 
coadjutor in his wars against the Fenian men. The 
son was as a child fondled on the knee of the 
English Tribune and began life in the cotton trade 
in Manchester under his auspices. It is true that 
he got his foothold in Irish public life as a member 
(the only non-Fenian member) of the band of 
grizzled I. R. B. extremists who carried John Mitchel 
for Tipperary as the foe of all Parliamentary politics 
and the unrelenting hater of the English name. 
The fact seems to conflict strangely with his later 
boast in the House of Commons that " he never 
belonged to the Separatist group," and with his 
somewhat exaggerated claim to represent a " consti- 
tutional movement " of the most rigid moderation. 
But it is certain that in the wildest of the early 
philippics which gained him the reputation of a new 
John Mitchel, he never extended his denunciations 
of England to the Liberal Party, and always 
nourished the same able-bodied hate of the Tories 
as Dr. Johnson did of " the Whig dogs." All this 
spoiled nothing as long as Ireland's fortunes were 
bound up with those of Gladstone and his Party. 
Mr. Dillon's duties and tastes alike led him into 
the most intimate social relations with distinguished 
Liberals and made him the most effective Irish 
figure on the Liberal platforms of the " Union of 
Hearts " campaign. 

But it was a different matter when the vicissitudes 
of time made it Ireland's interest no longer to regard 
her Cause as the party property of any particular 


set of English politicians — when, whatever was to be 
got from the Tories was, on Parnell's old principle, 
to be accepted with impartial good-will — when, in 
point of fact, it became more and more evident that 
a combination of both British parties was the surest, 
if not the only, road to a broad-based Irish settle- 
ment, in the highest interest of the Empire itself as 
well as of Ireland. This was a wholly new point of 
view which for many years simply bewildered and 
stupefied Mr. Dillon, and which, indeed, he never 
came fully to understand, much less to sympathise 
with. The idea of co-operating with the memorable 
Irish crusade of Wyndham was to him unorthodox 
to the verge of blasphemy. The greater its success 
in effacing Landlordism and leading up to Home 
Rule, the stronger was the patriotic duty of frustrating 
it. In vain he was reminded that the new programme 
of a Home Rule settlement by common consultation 
between the Liberal and Unionist front benches, 
and by preference under the auspices of a Unionist 
Government, was in reality first suggested by 
Gladstone, who in a letter to Mr. Balfour (December 
20, 1885) wrote : " It will be a public calamity if 
this great subject should fall into the lines of party 
conflict .... and I desire specially on grounds of 
public policy that it should be dealt with by the 
present (Unionist) Government." Even this cir- 
cumstance, as sometimes happens with zealots more 
Catholic than the Pope, scarcely reconciled the pupil 
who imbibed his Liberalism at the knee of John 
Bright, to the notion of collaboration with the Tories, 
even though it was for the realization of Gladstone's 
far-seeing programme of twenty years before. When 
to the suggestion of an understanding with the English 
Unionist Party there was added, as a still more vital 
element of success for Home Rule, an understanding 
with the Irish Unionists — " our hereditary enemies," 
the " Cromwellian spawn," the true-begotten heirs 


of Ascendancy and of Landlordism, and of every 
form of oppression that had harried the native race 
for centuries — the proposition was one still harder to 
digest. To cap all, when, after a few months' absence 
in America, he found that the success of the Land 
Conference had effected such a revolution in the 
national politics that " he scarcely knew it was the 
same country," it is at least comprehensible that a 
man of his abnormal slowness in taking in new 
developments should pass from a state of bewilder- 
ment to a state of sacred rage, and with the facility 
with which suspicion breeds credulity, should be 
unable to find any explanation of the transformation 
scene except some black betrayal of the Irish Cause 
by the Nationalist leaders at the helm while his 
back was turned. 

That is, at all events, the most indulgent apology 
I can frame for the infatuation which in the last 
two Parliaments made him the prime mover in the 
expulsion of Wyndham from Ireland and the stoppage 
of Land Purchase and in the Parliament now elected 
was to make him the dictator of a policy ending in 
the annihilation of the Home Rule movement and 
the Partition of the country. The Unionist Party 
could do no right and the Liberal Party could do 
no wrong. 




The Home Rule Parliament of 191 1 had a power 
little short of unbounded to make up to Ireland for 
the loss of the Home Rule understanding with the 
Unionist Government of 1903 and for the wanton 
stoppage of Land Purchase, by devising and passing 
a statesmanlike Home Rule settlement of their own. 
The Irish Party had it in their power to compel 
such a settlement, if it were not voluntarily forth- 
coming. Theirs was session after session a casting 
vote, such as Ireland had never possessed before and 
can never possess again in the Imperial Parliament 
— a casting vote incomparably more continuous and 
decisive than the few momentary flashes of power 
which had enabled Parnell in 1885 within six months 
to bring both British Parties competing to be first 
in the race for a Home Rule entente. What portion 
of the blame is to be assigned to the Liberal 
Government, and what to Ireland's own plenipo- 
tentiaries, for the feebleness, or mismanagement, 
which squandered all these treasures of power to 
no avail ? How are we to measure the responsibility 
of men, who, not content with failing to pass any 
measure of national self-government worth Ireland's 
acceptance, made their Home Rule Bill, such as it 
was, the means of perpetrating the most intolerable 
outrage England ever offered to Ireland in the worst 
ages of her tyranny, by cutting our venerable island 
into two nations, statutably designed and carved up 
in order to be hostile ones ? Heavy is the account 
which both Irishmen and Liberals have to answer 


for. By a miracle of conjoint bungling they turned 
a country brimming over with friendliness to the 
English people into an Irish Republic separated from 
England in everything beyond the gun-range of her 

None except the very young or the very thought- 
less in Ireland are likely to underprize the dignity 
imparted to the Irish nation in the world's eyes by 
the fervour with which Gladstone devoted the close 
of his stately life to her service. But for many years 
after his taking off, Gladstone's name was not 
mentioned in the House of which he had been the 
glory, and his Irish policy was shunned by the 
leaders of his party as a topic too ghastly to be 
recalled. Lord Rosebery, who had won his premier- 
ship over the old man's body and did not deserve 
to hold it long, turned his leisure in Opposition to 
account by forming his ex-Cabinet into a Liberal 
League, the principal object of which was to dis- 
encumber the Liberal Party from their Home Rule 
commitments. Mr. Asquith, Sir E. Grey, and Mr. 
Haldane suffered themselves to be seduced into a 
recantation which was scarcely honest under a leader 
who, they soon found out, did not deserve to lead. 
Mr. Morley, indeed, did not relinquish a certain 
forlorn allegiance to the Irish Cause to which he 
owed his all in public life. But it was he, as he 
reveals in an Autobiography which will leave 
posterity puzzled as to w r hether he is to be classed 
as a Stoic or a Cynic — it was he of all men who 
made the Parnell Split inevitable. It was he, again 
on the same amazing authority, who was one of the 
chief actors in the intrigue by which Gladstone's 
intrepid resolution to appeal to the country against 
the House of Lords' rejection of the Home Rule 
Bill of 1893 was overborne, and by a change as 
violent as from Augustus to Augustulus, Lord 
Rosebery was put in the dismissed statesman's place. 


The Secret Diaries of Sir Algernon West reveal 
Gladstone's own judgment both of Rosebery and 
of Morley. Of Rosebery's " predominant partner " 
speech, in a passage which is the eternal reproach 
of Liberal time-serving and the complete justification 
of the Irish Revolution Gladstone made the remark : 
" Rosebery's speech about convincing England in 
connection with Home Rule was most unfortunate 
and easily answered by Irishmen, who might say 
(and here he became earnest and very serious), 
1 How are we to convince you ? Is it as we did 
by the Volunteers, by the Tithe War, when Welling- 
ton said it was yielding to Civil War ' (or by some 
third thing I forget) ' which are the only means 
that ever have convinced England ? ' " (page 295). 
Of Morley we are told that Gladstone " deplored 
John Morley's threat of resignation and want of 
consideration " at crucial moments, and added " he 
had tried to persuade John Morley not to return to 
political life, for which he was not naturally fitted " 
(page 334). 1 

1 Irish quarrels give the Pharisees much scandal, because they 
are apt to come off in public. The quarrels of English politicians 
are vastly more venomous, only the backbiting is conducted 
confidentially and the victims escape the public eye, as do those 
of Turkish palace intrigues by being consigned to the Bosphorus 
in sacks. The extraordinary Private Diaries of Sir Algernon West 
might well put Irishmen in a more comfortable humour with 
themselves when they compare the malice and pettiness of it all 
with our own noisier but less malignant wars. While the Grand 
Old Man is battling like a hero to the last against old age and 
half-hearted colleagues we have Asquith coolly proposing to 
abduct him to the House of Lords ; the austere Morley " in one 
of his humours " protesting that Harcourt's " invariable insolence 
was too dreadful," and vowing he " would never again attend a 
Cabinet in which Harcourt sat ;" Rosebery with his insomnia and 
his nerves of a sick school-girl almost starting an international 
war, because the French Ambassador, at an evening party, spoke 
to Gladstone and not to his Foreign Minister ; members of the 


Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was, judging by 
the experience of the present writer, the only Liberal 
statesman of the first rank, after Gladstone, who 
never flinched from the Home Rule convictions in 
which he had " found salvation " even before 
Gladstone. Epithets like " honest," " straight," 
" single-hearted," leaped to the lips of all who came 
into contact with the breezy personality of the man. 
He possessed also an intellectual grasp and breadth 
nearer to genius than his unpretending exercise of a 
commonsense not disdainful of the commonplace 
might sometimes lead the commonplace to suspect. 
He had, in addition, that undaunted fighting spirit 
of the Borders, which was not to be put down by a 
succession of the bleakest rebuffs in Opposition or 
of still more disheartening quarrels and calumnies 
among his chief lieutenants or rivals. We Irish 
often envied him the imperturbable coolness with 
which he held his way in the midst of domestic 
dissensions, far more rancorous, although better 
concealed from the public, than our own, and even 
gave them a genial turn out of his abundant stores of 
the sly humour of his nation. His strength lay in that 
instinct of the people which values character above 
intellectual subtlety and in the fidelity to Ireland 
and to his leadership of a great mass of Liberals of 

Cabinet declining to speak to each other or bargeing each other 
on the Treasury Bench under the eyes of the House of Commons ; 
the arrogant old Queen Victoria, flying out at Gladstone for giving 
her son, the Prince of Wales, any hint of what went on at Cabinet 
meetings, and so on to the tragic moment when the smooth-faced 
Asquith and the semi-Stoic, semi-Epicurean Morley and the 
blustering Harcourt combined to prevent Gladstone from dying 
with his Home Rule harness on his back and to put the decadent 
Rosebery in his place. Our proneness to " personalizing " politics 
— to attending rather to quis dicit than to quid dicitur — is an evil 
national habit, which it ought to be one of the first tasks of the 
future to correct ; but the fallings-out of Irish public men, if they 
are more outspoken, are at least less Pharisaic than is the Anglo- 
Saxon way. 


the finest school — " good grey men " of the stamp 
of Shaw Lefevre, John Ellis, Henry Wilson, William 
Pollard Byles, Joshua Rowntree, and Jacob Bright — 
whose memory still smells sweet to Irish nostrils, 
although the waters of Lethe are already beginning 
to close softly over their names. When in the fulness 
of time the sorely-battered Liberal leader emerged 
victorious from the General Election of 1906, and, 
as Lord Shaw with a relish relates to us, was in a 
position to tell Mr. Asquith, Sir E. Grey, and Mr. 
Haldane to take the offices he assigned to them or 
go their ways, he had to put up with a Party in 
which the Rosebery influence was still strong enough 
to threaten the disruption of the Liberal majority if 
the Irish policy of Gladstone were revived. The 
Irish Council Bill was the best he could do in the 
circumstances of that particular Parliament, but he 
never made any concealment of the fact that the 
compromise was only to be thought of as one 
" consistent with, and leading up to, the larger 
policy " which it was the supreme glory of his Prime 
Ministry to have led to triumph in South Africa. 
Neither did he waver from his profession of faith 
made so long ago as 1885 that a true Irish settle- 
ment must be had by friendly conference among 
leaders on both sides and by " raising the question 
out of the arena of party strife." When the 
astonishing success of the Land Conference made 
such a combination of parties and classes practical 
politics, he so far conquered his own aversion to 
Treasury subsidies to the landlords as to give his 
hearty adhesion to the Unionist Chief Secretary's 
proposal to make the Bonus which was of the essence 
of the Bill of 1903 a free grant out of the Imperial 
Exchequer ; and there can be little risk of wronging 
his memory in taking it for granted that, if he had 
continued to be Prime Minister, he would never 
have been a party to making a Liberal Government 


responsible for the Act of 1909 which undid the 
work of conference and conciliation, and once for 
all flung the cause of Ireland back into " the arena 
of party strife." 

"10 Downing Street, 

" July 1, 1907. 
*' Private. 
" Dear Mr. O'Brien, 

" I am much obliged for your letter and for the 
copy of your article, 1 which has not yet come to 
hand, but which I shall read with much interest. 

" I have shown your letter to Mr. Birrell, who 
desires me to say that he has the pleasantest recol- 
lections of you in the House, and that he will always 
be glad to receive any suggestions and communica- 
tions you have to make. We fully share your view 
that it would be foolish and disastrous to do anything 
that would injuriously interfere with the progress of 
Land Purchase and the working of the Act. His 
views will be fully explained when the expected 
discussion takes place. 

" Believe me, 

" Yours very truly, 

" H Campbell- Bannerman." 

As much may be affirmed with only less confidence 
of Mr. Bryce if he had remained Chief Secretary, 
what with his contempt for partisan intolerance, and 
his native-born knowledge how much the agrarian 
settlement had done to mollify Ulster. On this 
point Mr. Morley, too, had the far-sightedness to 
go even further than Wyndham, and argued that it 
would be a cheap bargain for England to be rid of 
the Land War by all but doubling the amount of 
the Bonus proposed by the Unionists as a free gift 

1 In The Nineteenth Century, dealing with the collapse of the 
Irish Council Bill. 


from the Imperial Treasury. He had not far- 
sightedness sufficient to anticipate that he would be 
himself a member of a Liberal Government which 
in the Home Rule Bill of 191 2 was to be guilty of 
the unspeakable meanness of saddling the " free 
Imperial gift " of the Bonus (which Mr. Morley 
chivalrously doubled) upon the shoulders of Ireland 
as an Irish debt to be reckoned against Ireland in 
the Home Rule Act of 1914. Sir E. Grey and 
Mr. Haldane, likewise, had already so far emanci- 
pated themselves from the Rosebeery control as to 
give their cordial support to the new entente cordiale 
in Ireland in the debate which pledged the Liberal 
Party to support Wyndham in passing the Purchase 
Act of 1903 by consent. 

From that debate Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd 
George, the two most powerful men in the Ministry 
which followed Campbell-Bannerman's death, were 
conspicuous absentees, et pour came. They, like all 
healthy Radicals, always found a peculiar virtue in 
railing against extending public aid to landlordism 
in any circumstances, even in the case of Ireland, 
where the aid was in reality given not for the 
support of landlordism, but in order to rid Ireland 
of a feudal tyranny set up by England for her 
own selfish purposes. They, however, obeyed 
Campbell-Bannerman's lead in, more or less surlily, 
letting the Act or 1903 reach the Statute-book 
as an agreed measure. In the new Parliament 
of 191 1, where the Irish vote was paramount, 
no Radical in his senses would have dreamed of 
upsetting that settlement — the happiest in the history 
of English rule, and happy above all because it was 
of Irish, not of English, inspiration — if the repre- 
sentatives of Ireland had forbidden the perfidy. 
When, however, the Liberals found the real leaders 
of the Irish Party hating the Act of 1903 more 
ferociously^than themselves, and even discovering a 


perverted patriotism in lauding the Treasury Com- 
mittee's plans for its destruction, the Asquiths and 
Lloyd Georges would have been beings of super- 
politician clay, if they had not gratified at the same 
time Irish grudges and a penurious Treasury by 
bidding a practically united Liberal Party cut up the 
last roots of the settlement of 1903 by their ill-starred 
Birrell Act of 1909. 

And now came the question whether the Asquith 
Cabinet, having done Ireland the wrong of killing 
Land Purchase to please the Radical economists and 
Irish enemies of peace would at least repair the 
disaster by a courageous measure of Home Rule in 
which not more than three of their immense party 
majority had any desire to cross them ? The tem- 
perament of the new Prime Minister was to be the 
deciding — or rather indecisive — factor. My first 
meeting with Mr. Asquith was at the headquarters of 
the National League in Dublin in 1886, when he sought 
the aid of Harrington and myself in the investigations 
by which he was to make up his mind on which side 
of the fence he was to get down in the Coercion 
struggle then impending. A sharp-featured, close- 
shaven lawyer man with the English habit of self- 
suppression, cultivated to the point of showing no 
visible trace of human emotion of any kind — an 
advocate, not an enthusiast, who put his questions 
and jotted down his facts, not with any pretence of 
a lyric passion for Irish nationality, but as the 
materials for a brief which was to decide the side 
he was to take in the great assize of life. My first 
impression was all astray. Mr. Asquith seemed 
to be a harder man, but also a more resolute one, 
than he subsequently turned out to be. Mr. 
Haldane, who accompanied him and introduced 
him, seemed to me then, if he does not seem to me 
still, the greater man of the two ; possibly the 
favourable first impression was to some extent in- 


fluenced by the combination of a round chubby face 
less churlish of presenting its sympathetic side, a 
voice with something of the fat unction of a Free 
Church divine, and the intellectual calm of a German 
philosopher on his dreamy heights. Mr. Haldane 
himself, whether it be to the credit of his modesty 
or of his penetration, was quite content to play the 
second fiddle of the party, and left Harrington and 
myself in no doubt that he regarded Mr. Asquith 
as the first figure in the Liberalism of the coming 
time. Mr. Asquith's researches in Dublin were so 
little finally conclusive that he still wandered for a 
good mam/ years in the barren places of Lord 
Rosebery's Liberal League and out of them like a 
gentleman in search of his political religion, and had 
not dogmatically settled his creed even when a by 
no means enamoured Liberal Party called him to 
the Prime Ministership. All that was known was 
that his was a debating sword fit to measure itself 
on even terms with Chamberlain's own on the rare 
occasions when his foot was stoutly planted and his 
fighting blood was up. My first distrust of his icy 
lawyer ways proved to be quite a mistaken one. 
He never harboured a thought of betraying Ireland. 
He came to have a genuine affection for the country 
and an ever-widening appreciation of her aspirations. 
That his term of office did end in colossal failure 
and futility was due not to his want of a warm 
heart, but to his want of a firm will ; to a lack of 
first-hand knowledge of Ireland which really never 
until too late went beyond his first experimental 
trial-trip to the headquarters of the League ; above 
all, to his deficiency of that power of framing a great 
scheme of policy and standing by it through thick 
and thin, in which Campbell-Bannerman, vastly his 
inferior in intellectual equipment, was as decidedly 
his superior, and these are the things of statesman- 
ship that matter. I am absolutely convinced that 


Mr. Asquith never really knew what he did, when 
he destroyed the Policy of Conciliation by the 
Act of 1909, or when for Home Rule for Ireland he 
substituted Partition. By a singular stroke of fate, 
the genial development of character which only 
success revealed in him, turned out to be rather a 
decadence than a virtue. The roses of Egypt ener- 
vated the resolves even of a Mark Antony hardened 
in the tragedy of the Roman Forum, and the iron 
wars that followed. The Mr. Asquith in whom 
even his own followers dreaded a certain Noncon- 
formist austerity and aloofness ended as a supremely 
good fellow, whose weakness was to be an only too 
indolent good nature, and whose worst fault was to 
be an easy indecision. The day when he called in 
Mr. Lloyd George to relieve him of the burden of 
seeking an Irish solution he sealed the fate of Home 
Rule and his own as well. 

It is, perhaps, a melancholy compliment to the 
politician profession to say so, but if Mr. Lloyd 
George had been Prime Minister instead of Mr. 
Asquith with all Mr. Asquith 's advantages in the 
Parliament of 191 1, he would have carried Home 
Rule without flinching and Partition would never 
have been heard of. It was not that he was as 
great a statesman, but that he was a more painstaking 
and fearless one. It is not easy to do justice as 
between Mr. Lloyd George's imagination in con- 
ceiving great designs and his unscrupulousness in 
realizing them. Were he in the saddle as Prime 
Minister, with a confident majority at his back and 
the House of Lords under his feet, or, better still, 
squared, and an Irish Party resourceful to suggest 
and resolute to have its way, he would have wheedled 
hrough or guillotined through a Home Rule Act 
worth battling for ; he would have bad the imagi- 
nation to understand there was a side of the 
Protestant minority resistance not to be laughed 


down as the bluff of " wooden gun-men," or to be 
disposed of by Mr. Devlin's undertaking to clear 
the Covenanters out of his path if the police and 
military would only make a ring and stand aside ; 
but having offered " Ulster " the peace and honour 
in their own country which Mr. De Valera and 
Mr. Collins tendered with as lavish a hand in 1921 
as we did in 191 1, he would have bidden Sir E. 
Carson, if he still talked of armed resistance, to obey 
the law like the common citizen of commerce, and 
we should never have heard of his latter-day " two 
nations " theory with which he has since lashed a 
world-wide Irish race into rebellion. 

But as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Rule 
was not Mr. Lloyd George's job ; and he was never 
the man to leave the little wares of his own Department 
unadvertised — no matter how the market ruled. His 
first daring coup was to cut off for his own share a 
year out of the new Parliament's five, and that the 
first year, when energies are freshest. This appro- 
priation for his National Insurance Bill was an 
impudent injustice to Ireland, to secure " full self- 
government " for which was the first task for which 
the Liberals were elected — a purpose which was only 
to be effected by passing a Home Rule Bill without 
alteration through three successive sessions of the 
five available. His feat could never have been 
attempted without the complaisance of an indolent 
Prime Minister and a criminally inefficient Irish 
Party. As we have seen, he had already hitched 
their waggon to his fortunes by " the great and good 
Budget " of 1910. The alliance between them was 
strengthened when he saw his Irish enthusiasts come 
back from the General Election in undiminished 
numbers, in spite of the proofs that his and their 
engagements that Ireland's burden under the Budget 
would not exceed £400,000 a year had been already 
falsified and our own estimate of £2,000,000 sub- 


stantially realized. It was Ireland's unhappy destiny 
that the fame of Mr. Lloyd George which was to 
be the means of subjecting her to many bitter years 
of betrayal and civil war was mainly of Irish 
manufacture. The Hibernian stalwarts who raised his 
" great and good Budget " to the stars, and yelled 
their delight at every taunt and gibe of his at those 
of us who strove for the humblest hearing for 
Ireland's financial claims, now came back to the new 
Parliament fired with a wilder enthusiasm for Mr. 
Lloyd George than for any other member of the 
Home Rule Ministry. Not a protesting voice was 
raised while the first year of " the Home Rule 
Parliament " was snatched from Home Rule and 
devoted to a National Insurance Bill, which Ireland 
had never demanded — which she even repudiated, 
through the unanimous voice of the Irish Bishops, 
as a measure harassing and entirely unsuited to the 
country. It was Mr. Lloyd George's second playful 
wrestle with the Irish Party, the Budget of 1910 
having been the first. It was also his first trial of 
strength with his Prime Minister. The result must 
have been to give him a foretaste of the easy 
ascendancy over his happy-go-lucky chief, as well as 
over the Hibernian politicians, which was subse- 
quently to bring the one and the other to their 
ignominious collapse. The extent of his success can 
only be measured by imagining his coolly proposing 
to Gladstone and Parnell to adjourn Home Rule 
over the first year of a Home Rule Parliament in the 
interest of a third-rate Departmental Bill ! 

But the Insurance Bill contained one proviso but 
for which it is probable the acquiescence of the Irish 
leaders in Mr. Lloyd George's audacious deal would 
not have been so tame : it endowed the Board of 
Erin Hibernians out of public funds with an enor- 
mous mass of patronage under a separate Department 
of their naming, and an organized financial power 


extending to every parish in the country. The Bill 
thenceforth made the Lodges of the Order the 
official source of emolument and honour in the eyes 
of the whole prolific family of placehunters and 
toadies. Mr. Lloyd George's next measure struck 
much more deeply at the independence of the Irish 
Party. The secret of the strength of Parnell's Party 
was its direct contact with and dependence on Irish 
opinion. Being for the most part poor men, its 
members found no shame in being aided by the 
subscriptions of their own countrymen to do the 
country's business. So long as that business was 
efficiently done, the country gladly contributed their 
modest allowances and considered themselves the 
debtors of their representatives rather than their 
paymasters in the transaction. The essential point 
was that the people at home were the fly-wheel 
which kept the Parliamentary machinery in motion, 
and were in a position instantly to correct any slack- 
ness on the part of their delegates at Westminster. 
All this was now to be suddenly and stealthily 
changed. By a simple entry on his Estimates, the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to turn the 
House of Commons into a salaried body enjoying a 
Treasury subsidy of £400 a year, so long as the 
Chancellor for the time being chose to renew the 
estimate. However much may be said (and I think 
all may be said) for the payment of members by a 
self-governed State, the proposal to make Irish 
representatives the stipendiaries of a foreign Govern- 
ment, to wrest Self- Government from whom was 
their first business in Westminster, was to Irish 
Nationalists a hateful one, and would have been 
rejected without hesitation by the country, had it 
been honestly submitted for their judgment at the 
General Election. So obviously would this have 
been the verdict of Irish opinion that the Hibernian 
Party received the first announcement of Mr. Lloyd 


George's estimate with a self-denying resolution 
which seemed firmly to wave aside the bribe, and 
reaffirmed the old sound principle that an Irish 
Party must be content to depend upon the voluntary 
contributions of their own countrymen. However, 
having lulled any uneasiness in Ireland to rest by 
their virtuous protestation, they proceeded, without 
any further consultation of Irish opinion, to give a 
unanimous Party vote — and by their vote alone a 
majority was secured — for the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer's estimate, on the pitiful plea that in 
voting themselves their Treasury salaries, they were 
only voting like sound democrats in the interest of 
a poor English Labour Party. 

The transaction was hustled out of notice in the 
Hibernian newspapers as ingeniously as through the 
House of Commons. Probably not one Irishman 
in a thousand realized that, by a single vote in 
Committee, the fundamental principle on which the 
Irish Party was built up of direct accountability to 
the Irish people, was once for all demolished. But 
few will now dispute that from the night they voted 
themselves into Treasury salaries, and thus deprived 
their constituents of the power of the purse, as the 
Hibernian organization had already stripped the 
people of any real voice in their election, may be 
dated the decadence which was fated to bring the 
Parliamentary movement from one stage of deterio- 
ration to another to its final extinguishment by the 
consenting voice of a whole race. It would be 
unjust to suppose that any outside a very scurvy but 
very small inner ring of that Party were influenced 
by any sordid personal interest in their Parliamentary 
subsidies, still less that they foresaw the door they 
were opening to more painful fallings-away which 
were to follow, when swearing that they'd ne'er 
consent, they consented to eat the Lloyd George 
forbidden fruit. But it was that very inability to 


foresee the ultimate — sometimes even the immediate 
— consequences of their action which stamped the 
leadership of the National movement in these 
momentous years with an irredeemable taint of 
incapacity, and made the Party easy tools of Mr. 
Lloyd George, in whatever uses he chose to put 
them to from his first Budget wizardries to his final 
Partition Act. 

The alliance formed between Mr. Lloyd George 
and Sir Edward Carson completed the supremacy of 
Mr. Lloyd George and the bedevilment of Home 
Rule. The event was due to Mr. Asquith's incon- 
ceivable weakness in admitting to one of the highest 
posts in his Cabinet a man whose preparations for 
civil war in Ulster notoriously incited the Kaiser to 
precipitate the conflagration that covered the world. 
More amazingly still, this transformation of the 
potential rebel into a chief ruler of the Empire 
passed without a protesting word from the Irish 
Party, who, without exacting any conditions for the 
future of Home Rule, either from the Coalition 
Government or from Sir E. Carson, permitted the 
Ministry of the Home Rule majority to be dissolved 
and its place taken by a Coalition Cabinet of which 
(Mr. Lloyd George being still a dark horse) the 
two most potent members were the two most potent 
enemies of Ireland — Sir E. Carson and Mr. Bonar 
Law. The offer to Mr. Redmond of an insignificant 
Postmaster-Generalship by way of counterpoise was 
an almost contemptuous aggravation of the wrong 
with which the friendliness of Ireland at the outset 
of the war was repaid, with the connivance of her 
own representatives. In his new character as 
Minister of Munitions, Mr. Lloyd George was not 
long in recognizing in the Ulster and Unionist 
leaders his most valuable coadjutors in the Coalition 
Government, and the inevitable result of the com- 
bination is told in Col. Repington's Diary, revealing 


the means and the men by which Mr. Asquith was 
overthrown in the Cabinet of his own making : 

" Sunday. Deer. 3, 1916. — Last Friday began a 
great internal crisis when L. G. wrote to the P(rime) 
M(inister) that he could not go on unless our methods 
of waging war were speeded up. He proposed a 
War Council of Three, including himself, Bonar 
Law, and Carson. The two latter are with him, 
which means the Unionists, too." — {The First World 
War, Vol. 1, p. 403.) 

Mr. Lloyd George came out on top, and he was 
neither sufficiently stupid, nor sufficiently ungrateful, 
ever to forget the two men who were the pillars of 
his greatness. From the new Triple Alliance (once 
more established in power with the uncomplaining 
assent of an invertebrate Irish Party) * may be dated 
not merely Sir E. Carson's triumphant escape from 
his responsibilities for the war in the eyes of the 
British people, but his henceforth unquestioned 
mastery of the Irish policy of the Coalition. In the 
early stages of the Home Rule Bill, so far as Mr. 
Lloyd George had discovered Ulster at all, it was 
rather to play up to the delicate Hibernian facetiae 
at the expense of her wooden guns and her game 
of bluff and bluster. We may be sure that when 
the Bill was introduced in 19 12, he would as soon 
have anticipated the day when he would commit 
the Mabinogion to the flames or denounce Llewellyn 
as an historic imposture as that he would presently 
be found denying the very existence of an Irish 
Nation more bitterly than Sir Edward Carson. Like 

1 The All-for-Ireland members found all parties combined in 
ruling out the smallest mention of the matter in the House. 
Nothing could have prevented the Irish Party any night they 
chose from moving the Adjournment in order to discuss it ; but 
they sat dumb. They would only have recovered their voices 
for a roar of exultant derision, if we had tried to get the necessary 
40 members to rise and failed. 


Lord Randolph Churchill, he only discovered Ulster 
when it served his politician's purpose, and he not 
unnaturally placed pretty high Sir Edward Carson's 
price as an ally in matters that more concerned him. 
It was Sir Edward Carson and Mr. Bonar Law who 
had raised him to his dizzy height of power, and it 
was the cheapest of exchanges to be thenceforth 
their obedient servant in the affairs of Ireland. 

As unscrupulous as you please — although doubt- 
less softened to his conscience by the thought that 
he was saving the Empire in a great emergency as 
well as carrying his own ambitions to the stars — 
but if from that time forth it became certain that a 
Partition scheme dictated by Sir Edward Carson and 
Mr. Bonar Law was the only possible settlement to 
be offered to Ireland — if for years after the Irish 
Parliamentary Party had passed away, no acceptable 
terms of truce could be offered to Sinn Fein, until 
the two countries had been shocked with all the 
horrors of civil war — it must never be left out of 
sight that it was only because the indulgent bonhomie 
of Mr. Asquith had enabled Sir Edward Carson to 
meet his co-conspirators on an equal footing in his 
Cabinet, and because the triumph of the conspiracy 
received the mute assent of an Irish Party, who had 
already accepted the very Partition scheme which 
Sir Edward Carson eventually carried into law. 




Even instructed Irishmen are to this day without 
any clue to the riddle why Ireland, described 
(a little extravagantly) by Sir E. Grey at the outbreak 
of the World- War as " the one bright spot on the 
horizon," should, before many months were over, 
break out in rebellion and abandon Parliamentary 
methods altogether. The change was far from being 
as sudden or as fickle as it seemed. The discredit 
long undermining the Parliamentary movement did, 
to an amazing degree, escape public observation, but 
it was because the Press of the two countries, for 
opposite reasons which will be found disclosed in 
these pages, combined to keep the British public in 
entire ignorance, and the mass of the Irish people 
in an ignorance scarcely less tragic, of the deep 
stirrings of opinion that were all the time at work 
under the surface. 

For example, it was the consent of the Hibernian 
leaders to the first suggestions of Partition which was 
the root-cause of Sir Edward Carson's ascendancy 
in the counsels of British Cabinets : that was, also, 
the secret of the disgust with the Parliamentary 
politicians, long fermenting in the bosoms of the 
young generation, which found its first wild ex- 
plosion in the insurrection of Easter Week. But of 
this either the public never heard, or only preserve 
a memory slipshod beyond all the usual freaks of 
that treacherous medium. Many are under the 
impression that the exclusion of " Ulster " was only 
submitted to bv Mr. Redmond and his friends under 


the pressure of the World-War, and of a Coalition 
Government ; it was, in truth, accepted in principle 
many months before a war with Germany was in 
the thoughts of any of the parties concerned, and 
while a Home Rule Government, expressly elected 
to " give full self-government to Ireland " — all 
Ireland — was still in possession of its majority of 
more than 90 in the House of Commons, and of an 
irresistible means of silencing the House of Lords. 
Many more allowed themselves to be persuaded that 
the exclusion was only offered because it was known 
that " Ulster " would reject it, and that it was, in 
any case, to be only a temporary arrangement for 
six years. Two other gross impositions on public 
credulity ; for the exclusion was from the first 
moment grasped at by Sir E. Carson and Mr. Bonar 
Law, if only as the least of two evils, and so little 
was it to be " temporary " in its operation that the 
Hibernian leaders fully closed with it after the Home 
Rule Prime Minister had in their presence avowed 
that it was an exclusion never to be repealed without 
a fresh Act of the Imperial Parliament. Nay, there 
is a sleepy public which has managed to forget 
altogether that Partition was ever sanctioned by 
seven-eighths of the Nationalist representatives of 
Ireland, and would be horrified to be awakened to 
the fact that they agreed to surrender to Sir Edward 
Carson precisely the same Six Counties which Mr. 
Lloyd George afterwards separated from Ireland in 
his Partition Act of 1921, and that the Nationalists 
of the Six Counties themselves were forced by the 
Hibernian leaders in public Convention to ratify 
the bargain, and to be thus [made consenting 
parties to their own denationalization, and to 
all the horrors that followed it. To these funda- 
mental truths and to many others, the general 
public was, and is, blind, or what is worse, 


Under these circumstances, it becomes a duty of 
supreme historic interest to trace the true genesis of 
the Ulster Difficulty and its progress to Partition 
under the joint mismanagement of a fumbling Liberal 
administration and of its sinister Hibernian bear- 
leaders. The narrative will throw a revealing light 
upon the whole story of Ireland ever since — the 
statutable recognition of the two-nation theory in 
substitution for the ideal of Ireland a Nation — the 
falling to pieces of the Parliamentary movement of 
its own decay and rottenness — and the years of 
bitter agony that came after, when the Republican 
idealists of a new generation gave unstintedly of 
their young blood in the endeavour to redeem the 
pitiful errors of their elders. 

That mismanagement there was, gross as a 
mountain, is placed beyond controversy, by the 
confessions of Mr. Lloyd George and Sir E. Grey, 
already quoted. What plea has British statesmanship 
to offer, why wisdom did not come to them in 19 12, 
when Mr. Asquith's Home Rule Bill was being 
framed, but only nine years afterwards when the 
Act was expunged from the Statute-Book without a 
protesting voice from any side, to be succeeded by 
an Act more disastrous still ? Their most plausible 
defence is that they were constitutionally bound to 
follow the guidance of the majority of the represen- 
tatives of the nation they were enfranchising. All 
save eight of these representatives jauntily assured 
them there was no longer an Ulster Difficulty, the 
alarms of the Protestant minority were imaginary, 
the threats of armed resistance were part of a 
gigantic game of bluff which could without difficulty 
be disposed of by the police, or, for that matter, by 
the Hibernian mob in the streets of Belfast, if the 
police and military would only stand aside. It is 
a defence which has been more than once pleaded 
by Mr. Lloyd George. However pedantically 


defensible from the constitutional point of view, this 
repudiation of responsibility is more worthy of 
Party Whips than of statesmen charged with an 
international task of the first moment. Let the 
blame be bandied about as it may between the three 
Hibernian leaders and their Liberal entertainers at 
the famous breakfast party in Downing Street, the 
fact stands that the Bill which emerged from their 
deliberations did not contain in its forty-eight clauses 
a single provision to satisfy, or even to recognize 
the existence of those deep-lying discontents of more 
than a million of the Irish population which were 
afterwards to make shipwreck of the Home Rule 
Government and of their Bill, and to start a new 
and more virulent blood-feud between the two 
countries, if not in a very considerable degree to 
precipitate the world-wide conflagration from whose 
effects civilization is still staggering. 

How came it that a body of Irishmen not wanting 
in ability, or in a patriotism of their own, could have 
displayed a lack of vision so incurable, or an insen- 
sibility so callous to the interests and passionate 
emotions of one-fourth of their countrymen ? The 
puzzle, otherwise incomprehensible, becomes simple 
enough when we call to mind the transformation the 
Irish Party had been undergoing for the previous 
nine years. Ever since the revolt against the Land 
Conference settlement of 1903, the Party had been 
taught to regard that union of parties and classes 
which had peacefully abolished Landlordism, and 
might have abolished English rule with still less 
difficulty by the same means, as an unmitigated 
national misfortune. Every attempt to re-establish 
that solidarity of Irishmen of all racial and religious 
origins which had already wrought such wonders, 
was regarded by the new leaders of the Party with 
distrust and aversion as a conspiracy of " rotten 
Protestants and rotten Catholics " to displace the 


Party from their hold upon the country and betray 
them into the hands of Heaven knows what fantastic 
combination in a " Centre Party " of swindling Irish 
landlords, English Tory Ministers, and Nationalist 
traitors. The moment the propagators of these 
libels were brought to book before a Limerick jury, 
they either fled the witness-chair altogether, like 
Mr. Dillon, or made a piteous breakdown under 
cross-examination, like Mr. Sexton. Each and 
every one of the six portentous charges they dared 
to put in concrete form was declared to be a false 
and defamatory libel, and to have been published 
with malice. Unashamed by the exposure, they 
persisted, although with a more cautious eye to the 
law of libel, in re-hinting and re-insinuating every 
item in this tissue of ridiculous fables, hunting 
down the Irish Unionists of the new school with 
all the more malignity the further they advanced 
towards Irish National ideals, and the greater 
was their success in attracting their brother Pro- 
testants to follow in their train, while they 
branded as manifest traitors every Nationalist who 
did not join in the hunt. The Irish country gentle- 
men and city merchants — always a sensitive and 
timorous folk on the political stage — were quite 
successfully intimidated from taking the plunge of 
open conversion to the National side by the coarse 
imputations upon their honour, their family history, 
and their racial and religious traditions, which had 
been the only reward of the first of their class who 
had been the pioneers. After which, with a scru- 
pulousness all their own, the libellers who had 
treated the sympathetic welcome extended by the 
All-for-Ireland League to the new school of Irish 
Unionists as some unspeakable crime against Ireland, 
now made the success of their own intimidation an 
audacious argument how completely all the efforts of 
the All-for-Ireland League to conciliate the Irish 
Unionist minority had been a failure 


Had a different temper prevailed, few will now 
doubt that the mass of the Irish Unionists might 
have been long ago incorporated in a United Ireland, 
and the opposition reduced to a narrow strip of 
territory around Belfast. Even N. E. Ulster, a patient 
and indulgent tolerance must have irresistibly brought 
back to its old allegiance to the principles of 
Grattan's Volunteers and of the United Irishmen. 
That the anticipation was not a too sanguine one, 
is testified by the eagerness with which great county 
meetings of magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants and 
of the industrialists and captains of commerce in the 
cities gave in their adhesion to Home Rule fifteen 
years later on the first symptoms that their co- 
operation would be genuinely welcomed. Their 
adhesion and the genuine welcome unluckily came 
too late. I have often heard honest country gentle- 
men and Protestant merchants and farmers lament 
that their leaders had not the moral courage to rally 
manfully to our ranks, before Sir E. Carson had 
formed his army of dour Ulster bigots and thrown 
the Southern Unionists to the wolves. They hesi- 
tated and were lost. Even a number of young Irish 
Unionists who had graduated in Lord Dunraven's 
school of patriotism, and who were not to be 
frightened by intimidation, allowed themselves to 
succumb to the subtler temptation of seats in 
Parliament to transfer their services to the side of 
immediate power and patronage. Young men of 
excellent gifts like Mr. Walter MacMurrough 
Kavanagh, Mr. Stephen Gwynn, Mr. Hugh Law, 
and Mr. Shane Leslie, might have become the 
honoured leaders of a re-awakened Protestant 
patriotism had they chosen the harder part of 
representing the traditions of their own rank and 
creed and brought their co-religionists with them to 
a higher plane of National ambition. They were 
content instead to merge themselves in the little 


group of tame Protestant Home Rulers maintained 
for obvious reasons at Westminster as the nominees 
of a Hibernian Party to whose inner rites their 
religion forbade their admission. 

But a vastly more formidable, and, indeed, an 
impassable barrier to the conciliation of the Protestant 
minority was raised by the fundamental transfor- 
mation of the United Irish movement itself from a 
national to a sectarian one. For generations Irish 
Protestants, far from accepting the position of aliens 
in Ireland's undying fight for liberty, had supplied 
the major part of its poetry and eloquence, had been 
its leaders and soldiers and martyrs. When the 
United Irish League was founded in 1898 to recreate 
the country's forces, shattered by the Parnell Split 
of 1890, the basis and first article of its Constitution 
was copied from that of Wolfe Tone's Society of 
United Irishmen, mostly Protestants and Dissenters, 
who pledged themselves " to promote a union of 
power, friendship, and affection between Irishmen of 
every religious persuasion." Men who had no part 
in the foundation of the United Irish League — who, 
in truth, bitterly resented its intrusion because it put 
an end to the impotent rivalries of the Parliamentary 
factions into which the Parnell movement had broken 
up — had no sooner insinuated themselves into power 
in the new organization than they proceeded to 
subvert its first principle of the broadest religious 
and political equality and paved the way towards its 
perversion into a squalid confederacy of Catholic 
place-hunters. The Irish world would have quite 
certainly risen up in horror against the design had 
they known, or even suspected, that the effect would 
be to ostracise from the national ranks, unless on 
terms of inequality intolerable to men of honour, 
the co-religionists of the Grattans, Wolfe Tones, 
Emmets, Davises, and Parnells, whose names had 
been for a century and a half the most sacred in 
their political hagiology. 


The change was accomplished in secrecy and 
with considerable craft, and, needless to say, only 
after the founders of the League had withdrawn or 
been driven out. The public organization of the 
United Irish League, with its broad maxims of civil 
and religious equality and fraternity, was carefully 
maintained as the ostensible organ of the movement, 
but its offices were filled, its democratic Executives 
in every Division overrun, and its funds brought 
under the control of a new and secret organization 
without the authority of any mandate from the 
nation. The pith and vigour of the public League 
were gradually absorbed by the occult power, as, in 
some tale of mediaeval sorcery, the witch's own 
changeling waxed and grew while the legitimate 
infant pined and fell away. The National President 
of the " Board of Erin " Hibernians became the 
paid Secretary of the United Irish League, and 
from an humble employment in Belfast rose to be 
a Member of Parliament and the omnipotent " Chief 
Secretary for Ireland." The Assistant- Secretaryship 
fell to another of the Secret Order, the Standing 
Committee, or supreme governing body of the 
League, was stuffed with a majority of Hibernians, 
its staff of organizers were recruited from the 
Hibernian Lodges, but paid out of the United Irish 
League's funds, and were despatched all over the 
country, with the nominal mission of addressing 
decorous Branches of the League, whose irreproach- 
able sentiments were duly reported in the newspapers, 
but in reality with the object of turning them into 
so many obsequious servants of the Board of Erin. 
Before very long the United Irish League had 
virtually ceased to exist save as an innocuous dead- 
wall for posting up resolutions and appealing for 
funds ; the resolutions were dictated, and the funds 
gathered in by the officials and organizers of the 
Board of Erin. 


The new danger to the Irish Cause originated 
in Belfast in that stifling atmosphere of religious 
rancour which, ever since the destruction of 
Grattan's Parliament, dried up the generous current 
of Protestant patriotism, and poisoned the life of all 
denominations of its people. The obscure history 
of the Ancient Order of Hibernians may be traced 
back to the secret association of Defenders forced 
into existence by the first diabolical schemes for the 
extermination of the Catholic peasantry of Armagh 
which signalised the foundation of Orangeism by 
the plotters of the Union. The new organization 
of the Board of Erin had, of course, no relationship 
with those ancient blood-feuds between creed and 
creed, beyond adopting for themselves the pet-name 
of " The Mollies," invented for some unknown 
Ribbon band, who used to make the shebeen-shop 
of one Molly Maguire the headquarters of their 
midnight operations in the gallant wars of the 
Catholic Defenders. The essential vice of the 
Board of Erin Hibernians, in fact, was that they 
had no comprehensible object which could be 
publicly stated, until their real purpose came to be 
at last made only too manifest to be that of a 
gigantic pseudo-Catholic combination for the dis- 
tribution of all offices, power, and emoluments 
among its exclusively Catholic partisans. 

The genuine Ancient Order of Hibernians in 
America, from which the Board of Erin were 
seceders, was a perfectly legitimate Friendly Society, 
which expended its resources upon noble works of 
benevolence — the foundation of a famous Catholic 
University, of Catholic Orphanages and Asylums, 
and the like — but never put forward any pretension 
to control or sectarianise the Irish National 
movement. The Board of Erin, too, found it 
expedient to assume the guise of an authorised 
Friendly Society as a plausible excuse for their 


existence for very different objects, but that was 
only after Mr. Lloyd George's Insurance Act of 
191 1 had placed at the disposal of the Board of 
Erin Hibernians a separate Irish Insurance Depart- 
ment commanding an enormous mass of patronage 
covering Commissioners, Inspectors, Doctors, Law 
Agents, and clerks, extending over every parish in 
the country. 

The pretence that the aggressive Catholicism of 
the Board of Erin was necessitated in order to 
defend any real interests of religion was without a 
shred of justification. They had no more a mandate 
from ecclesiastical authority for their Catholicism 
than from the democracy of Ireland for their political 
domination. As it happened, their first considerable 
incursion into Irish public life was Mr. Devlin's 
crusade against the Bishop of Down and Connor 
(Dr. Henry) on the very ground that the Bishop had 
started a Catholic Association for the defence of 
purely religious local interests in Belfast. It is one 
of life's little ironies that the local Catholic Asso- 
ciation for whose foundation Dr. Henry was made 
to go down to his grave in sorrow was afterwards 
copied by his persecutors on a vaster scale and 
without a vestige of his justification, in their own 
scheme for sectarianising the national politics of the 
entire country. The new champions of Catholicity 
were so little to the taste of Rome that Propaganda 
issued an instruction to the Irish Bishops that the 
new organization of the Board of Erin was to be 
" vigilantly watched." It long lay under sentence 
of excommunication in its Scottish province, and the 
interdict was only raised on the undertaking to drop 
for the future the blasphemous form of initiation, 
which was to make the postulant repeat his vows of 
secrecy, with his hand laid upon a crucifix. The 
moral valuation of its membership in the North was 
sufficiently appraised in a Visitation Sermon of 


Cardinal Logue in Tyrone in which he declared the 
Hibernian Order in the parish he was visiting to 
have become " a pest, a cruel tyranny, and an 
organized system of blackguardism," and threatened 
that if his present admonitions had no effect " he 
would in the exercise of his duty excommunicate 
the Hibernians throughout his Archdiocese." Thus, 
the Board of Erin entered upon its career of 
devastation under the cloak of Catholicism not only 
without a particle of sanction from the Catholic 
Church, but on the contrary under the disapproval 
and menace of its highest dignitary. The Cardinal's 
words, had they been followed up, must soon have 
reduced the new " pest " to powerlessness and 
contempt in the North. Unhappily, the suspicions 
of the Protestant Minority, so far from being dissi- 
pated, were gravely confirmed when they found that 
the secret society which on its first coming engaged 
the patronage of only one astute and ambitious 
Prelate in the island, and was stigmatised as "an 
organised system of blackguardism " by the Cardinal, 
came eventually to be propagated throughout Ireland 
with the blessings of a goodly company of Bishops, 
Chaplains, and Spiritual Directors, and that even 
many who in their hearts detested it as an organ of 
Catholic opinion could not always resist the temp- 
tation of blessing its victorious banners with the 
easy versatility of the Vicar of Bray. 

This, then, was the change in the whole frame- 
work and spirit of the National movement which 
forced itself upon the minds of Irish Protestants 
and filled them with disquiet and alarm. The 
movement had passed into the control of a Secret 
Order, to which nobody who was not a Catholic 
was admissible, and of which partaking of the 
Blessed Sacrament of the Catholic Church was 
another of the requirements. The voice in public 
might still be the voice of the United Irish League, 


but the hand was the hand of the mysterious Board 
of Erin, who had captured its offices and organizers 
and the control of its funds. The axiom of " Union 
and Friendship between Irishmen of every religious 
persuasion," emblazoned on the banner of the United 
Irish League as the first article of its creed, was 
torn down and trampled in the dust. Every Irish 
Protestant who manifested National tendencies was 
repulsed with coarse insults. Those Nationalists 
who pleaded for welcome, or even toleration, for 
them within the Nationalist fold were not saved by 
life-long devotion to the National Cause from being 
themselves ostracised as traitors and " rotten 
Catholics," and prevented by physical violence and 
bloodshed, whenever necessary, from obtaining a 
hearing from their countrymen. " The Party " 
itself was not free from the espionage of the Board 
of Erin bosses, who held the public opinion of the 
country by the throat, Those of them who ventured 
even to exchange a furtive greeting with an All-for- 
Ireland colleague in the sacred lobbies of the House 
of Commons found themselves pricked down for 
destruction at the next elections. And the men 
who exercised this odious tyranny were not only in 
a position to nominate disciples who could exchange 
their own grips and passwords as Members of 
Parliament, of the Corporations, County Councils, 
and District Councils. They were soon all-powerful 
enough to turn down their thumbs against every 
candidate for office from the highest places in the 
judiciary or in Dublin Castle to the humblest rural 
sinecure, who failed to attorn to their decrees. 
There is expert evidence for the calculation that the 
Board of Erin was eventually in possession of 
patronage to the amount of three millions sterling 
per annum for distribution among their brethren. 

It did not lessen the discontents of the Minority 
that the Orange leaders were not in a position to 
expatiate in public upon the enormities of " The 


Mollies," since the spirit and the methods of the 
two Orders were substantially the same. The 
Orangemen, like " The Mollies," throve upon the 
narrowest bigotry, the frankest craving for place- 
getting and pelf, with an invincible determination 
to restrict the good things to those of their own 
kidney ; and it was the Orangemen who first set 
the detestable example. But therein lay the deadly 
disservice done to the National Cause by those who 
established the Board of Erin ascendancy ; for the 
Board of Erin Order, without a shadow of honest 
justification, created in the twentieth century a new 
ascendancy, differing but in colour from the pesti- 
lent Orange tyranny established in Ulster in the 
eighteenth. As in the foundation of Orangeism, it 
was the worst of the Protestant body who prevailed 
over the best ; so in the sham-Catholic ascendancy 
now substituted for it, it was the most ignorant 
elements of the Catholic community who gave the 
most ignorant of the Protestants a new lease of 
power by throwing the mass of the sober-minded 
Protestant and Dissenting population into their 
arms for protection. It was of no avail to point 
out to fanatical, or even to reasoning Protestants 
how monstrous an injustice the cry of " Home 
Rule — Rome Rule " did to a Catholic nation whose 
whole history breathed the broadest and tenderest 
toleration. The Board of Erin put a convenient 
reply in the mouths of honest doubters, who feared 
for the future of their children in a Hibernian-ridden 
Ireland, as well as of those with whom the breeding 
of evil party-passions was a profession. The new 
ascendancy was in actual operation in the daily life 
of the country, and it spared neither those Protestant 
Unionists who had ceased to be Unionists, nor 
tolerant Catholics who would have welcomed them 
to the National fold with gladness. Sir E. Carson 
got his chance, and the Ulster Difficulty entered 
into the deepest life of the Protestant population. 




It must not be supposed that the mistake concerning 
the Protestant Minority which " The Home Rule 
Cabinet " now mournfully acknowledges was made 
for lack of incessant forewarnings and entreaties, or 
that those of us who now point the moral of its 
unwisdom are, like the Ministers themselves, only 
wise after the event. At each successive stage of 
the controversy — under a Tory Government, under 
a Liberal Government, and under a Coalition 
Government alike — we of the All-for-lreland school 
can claim without presumption to have iterated and 
reiterated, with moderation and solemnity, but 
without wavering, that any true Irish settlement 
must be sought by a combination of all Irish and 
English parties for an object loftier than party 
strategy, and above all that delicate deference must 
be paid to the traditional particularities and even 
prejudices of Ulster. Two further propositions may 
be respectfully postulated as matters of common 
agreement by this time : viz. (a) that there is not 
one of our detailed suggestions — for years held in 
derision and for a parable of reproach to us as 
factionist and traitorous — which would not now be 
recognised as concessions of such obvious good 
sense as to seem commonplace, and (b) that up to 
a certain date they would have been closed with by 
Ulster as a satisfaction of all the reasonable require- 
ments and apprehensions of the Protestant minority. 
To make good this claim, it may be convenient 
once for all to set out the terms of the Settlement 


by Consent which we proposed in the very words in 
which I challenged the verdict of the city of Cork, and 
which I was returned without an opposing voice to 
press upon the Government. It will be seen that 
they cover the three points on which " the appre- 
hensions of our Protestant countrymen and not in 
Ulster alone " were most sensitive. 

" i. (The Ulster terror of parting with the active 
authority of the Imperial Parliament) — We propose, 
for an experimental term of five years, to give the 
Ulster Party which would remain in the Imperial 
Parliament (say ten, with the possible addition of 
two members, one for Trinity College, and one for 
Rathmines, to represent the Southern minority) a 
direct suspensory veto upon any Bill of the Irish 
Parliament unless and until it shall either be 
approved or rejected by a resolution of the Imperial 
Parliament, to be passed within one month after the 
exercise of the Veto. Further, to give the Ulster 
Party the right upon a signed requisition to the 
Speaker of discussing on a motion for the adjourn- 
ment of the House of Commons, any administrative 
Act of the Irish Executive dealing with Education, 
Justice, or Police. For the experimental period, 
these powers would give the Protestant minority the 
direct and active protection of the Imperial Parlia- 
ment in a much more effectual way than they 
possess it at present. Such a suspensory veto may 
seem an unheard-of concession to a minority, and so 
it is. It would in my judgment be gladly submitted 
to by the best thinking men of our race, in the 
belief that it would serve as a wholesome restraint 
upon an infant Parliament in its first inexperienced 
years, and in the firm conviction that nothing will 
be attempted which would either tempt the Ulster 
Party to exercise the Veto or the Imperial Parliament 
to enforce it. The concession would, of course, be 
unendurable unless (failing a fresh Act of the Imperial 


Parliament for its renewal) it were to expire at the 
end of the experimental period, by which time a 
General Election will have been undergone and the 
new Imperial Parliament placed in a position to 
judge of the Irish Legislature by its actual record. 

" 2. (The insignificance of the minority in a Dublin 
Parliament.) — As the Bill stands, the Ulster group 
will undoubtedly be a somewhat attenuated one, as 
it is bound to be by a pedantic adherence to existing 
geographical boundaries. Nor would any fancy 
property franchise be, to my mind, tolerable in 
the popular chamber under modern democratic 
conditions. We should propose to deal, unsymmetri- 
cally but effectively, with the question of giving the 
Protestant minority a representation proportioned to 
their numbers and their natural claim for adequate 
protection by increasing the proposed representation 
in the Schedule to 20 for Belfast, 16 for Antrim, 
8 for Armagh, 16 for Down, and 8 for Londonderry, 
which with a proportional vote (or, better still, a 
cumulative vote) extended to the rest of the country 
would yield a Protestant minority vote of at least 60 
in the Irish House of Commons. Here you would 
have established a body which could not possibly be 
put down by oppressive means, and which would 
only have to win the adhesion of some 30 
Catholic Nationalists at the utmost to form a 
governing majority upon a National Peace programme 
which would efface all the old distinctions. What 
a career of unhoped-for power and noble patriotism 
for the present Unionist Minority, whom the Imperial 
Parliament has stripped of every vestige of political 
power over four-fifths of the country and can never 
by any possibility of its own authority restore it ! 
Sensible Irishmen would make little difficulty about 
assenting in addition to such local powers as, 
apparently, Sir E. Grey would delegate to Ulster — 
appointments, for instance, of County Court judges, 


Inspectors of Education and County Inspectors of 
Police from competent panels — either by the Ulster 
County Councils or some other local authorities, but 
these would be quite insufficient inducements in 
themselves, and would be happily overshadowed by 
the larger concessions which would attract Ulster 
centripetally to, instead of repelling her from, the 
National Parliament. 

"3. (The fears of a Spoils system worked by a 
twopenny -ha'penny Tammany?) — The Unionist mino- 
rity are not the only Irish minority who regard with 
repugnance the ascendancy of a Secret Association 
confined to men of one particular religious persua- 
sion, and using as its most powerful instrument the 
disposal of all offices and patronage from the highest 
to the lowest, not according to the merits of the 
candidates, but according to their proficiency in the 
signs and passwords of the Order. The growth of 
this sectarian organisation (whose object nobody has 
yet ventured publicly to put into words) is indeed 
responsible for the creation of three-fourths of the 
Ulster Difficulty which now darkens the horizon. 
I am confident that most of the far-seeing supporters 
of Mr. Redmond must be in their hearts as anxious 
as either the Ulster Minority or the Munster Minority 
to put an end to any danger from this undemocratic 
secret agency by having provision made that all 
offices of emolument (save only Ministers, Heads of 
Departments, and Judges) should be disposed of by 
a carefully chosen body of Irish Civil Service 
Commissioners who should throw them open to all 
candidates upon equal terms, and put an end to the 
scandal of dispensing Government patronage in 
partisan newspaper offices by sectarian preferences 
and secret intrigues." 

These proposals were never made public by the 
Hibernian Press, nor by any newspaper in England. 
The only version of them circulated in three-fourths 


of Ireland was that I proposed to " hand over 
Ireland to the veto of twelve Orangemen " — the only 
justification for that atrocious libel being the proposal 
for an experimental period of five years, to give a 
minority of a million the security of a possible appeal 
to the Imperial Parliament, to be decided within 
one month, under circumstances which made it all 
but certain that, by reason of the very completeness 
of the security, the power would never be exercised. 
And this moderate price to purchase the confidence 
of one-fourth of the Irish population was held up 
to execration as " handing over Ireland to the veto 
of twelve Orangemen " — that, too, in a Home Rule 
Bill which, in the words of Mr. T. P. O'Connor, 
" contained as many English vetoes as there were 
padlocks in a jail." Who can wonder if a country 
debarred from all chance of reading our proposals 
for themselves and so infamously led astray as to 
their real purport, should have taken half a genera- 
tion of suffering to learn that the " factionists and 
traitors " were " fundamentally right " all along ? For 
ourselves, so little did we claim any special foresight 
in discerning the possibilities of an incomparable 
National settlement in "an agreement amongst all 
sections, creeds, and classes of Irishmen, " that the 
only clue we could find to the enigma how any sane 
body of Irishmen could detect in it any trace of 
treason to Ireland was that those who only saw in 
the Land Conference settlement " a landlord 
swindle " infallibly bound to " end in national 
insolvency " felt themselves now constrained to 
persist in the error at any cost against all evidence 
and commonsense. 

Stand fast by our proposal, at all events, we 
did from start to finish against all the buffets of 
unpopularity and of carefully nurtured ignorance in 
Ireland and in England. Persons familiar with the 
state of feeling in the Ulster Party, and especially 


among the mass of the Northern population, prior 
to the Larne gun-running, will scarcely deny that 
" a Bill thus conceived, far from being a grievance 
in the sight of embittered Irish Protestants, would 
have been hailed by them as an Act of Political 
Emancipation such as the Imperial Parliament could 
never otherwise secure to them." But what of its 
reception by the Republicans ? They were not then 
in existence, and with wiser counsels they might 
never have been, in any ponderable numbers. The 
opposition came from the self-aggrandising place- 
hunters of the Board of Erin ; the clean-souled 
adolescents who were to be the rebels of Easter 
Week had not yet been made sick with the cajoleries 
of the Parliamentary politicians, and would see no 
more trace of treason to Ireland in our doctrines 
than in Davis's genial version of the Orange war- 
song, " The Battle of the Boyne," which they had 
been taught to lisp from their cradles : 

" Boyne's old water, 

Red with slaughter, 
Now is as pure as the children at play ; 

So, in our souls, 

Its history rolls, 
Orange and Green will carry the day I'"' 1 

From the poorest standpoint of expediency, there 
stood one-fourth of the Irish population who must 
either be lived with or exterminated. The latter 
course was, happily, as impossible as it would have 
been heathenish. It would have expelled from the 
service of Ireland a leisured class of soldiers, sports- 
men, and genial comrades as ineradicably Irish as a 
free admixture of Gaelic blood for centuries could 
make them, and an industrial population whose 

1 " I would go as far as ever you went to win over Ulster," 
Mr. De Valera told me in 1922. 


energy, probity, and solidity of character would 
endow an Irish State with some of its most precious 
elements of stability. To acknowledge that there 
were two unmixable Irelands would be to fly in the 
face of some of the most shining truths of our 
history. Gaelic Ireland's ethnic genius had never 
found any difficulty, even as late as the Williamite 
wars, in fascinating and absorbing all the successive 
invaders who, in conquering, were themselves 
conquered — the Norman Geraldines in Munster and 
the Norman Burkes in Connacht, the Danes in 
Dublin, the Scotsmen in Dalriada, the Belgians in 
Wexford, the Welshmen in Tyrawley, the grim 
Cromwellians themselves amidst the bewitching 
homes of Tipperary. The beadroll of statutes from 
century to century forbidding the adventurers from 
England — and forbidding them in vain — to " live 
Irishly " and take Irish wives, is one long English 
protestation of the homogeneity of the nation. Even 
the era of the diabolical Penal Laws, if it raised up 
fiends to debase the Catholic Gaels almost out of 
human shape into a separate race, " in the English 
and Protestant interest," produced also a dynasty ot 
Protestant patriots as truly Irish as the eternal 
mountains that towered over Henry Grattan's woods 
at Tinnahinch. Flood was the only man of genius 
in the Irish Parliament who represented anti-Catholic 
bigotry at its darkest ; yet even he made atonement 
for that one sunspot in his character by the will 
in which he left a considerable property for the 
encouragement of the study of Gaelic in Trinity 
College and the publication of the ancient manu- 
script literature of the Gael. With the graces and 
accomplishments of a cultured Irish nobleman, 
Charlemont strangely mingled in his character a 
gloomy Protestant bigotry ; yet he, too, was so 
passionate a fanatic for Irish liberty that, as Com- 
mander-in-Chief of Grattan's Volunteers, his prepa- 


rations for a war against the Parliament of England 
were more formidable than Sir E. Carson's more 
than a century later, and were authorised by 
sounder constitutional warrant. The man whom 
the English intellectual world now acclaim as the 
most sublime of their philosophers and statesmen 
was the Irish Protestant, Edmund Burke, who, for 
the inspired eloquence with which he scathed 
England's doings in Ireland, went within an ace of 
being slain by the Gordon rioters as an Irish papist 
adventurer. To tear out from the journals of the 
Irish Parliament the splendid pages which record 
the Protestant struggle for Irish freedom from 
Molyneux' first daring claims to the dying hours 
in which it succumbed to the Act of Union — to 
disown the romantic chapters added to our story 
bv the Protestant Wolfe Tone when, after Parlia- 
mentary methods had failed, he appealed to the God 
of battles, and to disown them because the martyrs 
who died at his call on the scaffolds of Belfast and 
Carrickfergus and at Antrim Fight were Protestant 
Dissenters who had not taken the Catholic Sacrament 
— would be to cancel the entire history of Ireland 
since the Middle Ages, and has only to be set out 
in cold terms of logic to excite the abhorrence of 
every Catholic Nationalist with an uncorrupted heart. 
Irish Protestant patriotism did not die even 
under the scalpel of Castlereagh's Act of Union. 
Lecky, whom certain family sufferings during the 
Land War unhappily alienated from the Irish Cause 
in his declining years, has left us in his books an 
immortal monument of the inborn Nationalism of 
the Irish Protestant genius. It would be scarcely 
possible for prejudice itself to study the unexpur- 
gated edition of his Leaders of Public Opinion in 
Ireland without being convinced that religious 
rancour was steadily disappearing in the generous 
sunheat of G rattan's Parliament and was only resus- 


citated after the Union when the contagion of the 
Evangelical Revival in England spread in a virulent 
form to the North of Ireland. Dr. Boulter, the 
English Archbishop of Armagh, owns with frank 
brutality how truly religious feuds in Ireland are 
the product of English policy and not of native 
perversity, when, inveighing against every measure 
that tends to unite Protestant with Papist," he 
adds, " whenever that happens, good-bye to the 
English interest in Ireland for ever." And the Union 
gave England the means of fomenting the war of 
creeds in Ireland during the bitter generation for 
which the Catholic Emancipation, more than half 
accomplished by the Irish Parliament during the 
Viceroyalty of Lord Fitzwilliam, was obliged to 
prolong its hate-engendering debates in the Parlia- 
ment of England. Even so, the unquenchable 
embers of Protestant patriotism flared up again and 
again in Ulster itself. Too little is known of Gavan 
Duffy's " League of the North and South " in whose 
ranks the mass of the Protestant Dissenters and their 
clerical leaders in the Fifties were, beyond question 
eager to join hands with their Catholic countrymen, 
and which was only crushed by the apostacy of the 
ruffians, Keogh and Sadleir, unluckily condoned by 
the simplicity of two or three Catholic prelates. So 
much an affair of yesterday is the Ulster Protestant 
bloc which Sir E. Carson managed to persuade 
England was ancient and unbreakable, that within 
living recollection the Dissenters, who formed the 
weightier half of Sir E. Carson's Covenanters, were 
wholly at one with the Catholics on the two questions 
— religious disabilities and the land — which were the 
staple interest of their lives, and were the active allies of 
the Catholics in every electioneering and democratic 
campaign against the other half —the EpiscopalianTories . 
So late as 1885, it was Presbyterian votes that re- 
turned Justin MacCarthy for the City of Deny, 


and Mr. Tim Healy for South Deny, and myself 
for South Tyrone. 

For one like myself, who as a boy had followed 
Smith O'Brien — the flower of Irish knighthood — to 
his grave ; who esteemed it the glory of his youth 
to have been asked by John Mitchel to compose his 
Election Address to Tipperary ; who had seen Isaac 
Butt and Professor Galbraith reconstruct a broad- 
based national movement from the ruins of 
Fenianism, and later on followed Parnell to the 
very Jordan's brink of Irish Independence — it can 
easily be imagined how little disposed I was to 
disown the co-religionists of men such as these as 
a tribe of unmixable aliens and pariahs. To be 
accused of some monstrous heresy against Ireland 
for the bare proposal to incorporate that million of 
religiously-minded, laborious, and stout-hearted men 
everlastingly in our nation on terms of equality and 
honour, might well seem the prank of some practical 
joker, if it were not unhappily the stock-in-trade of 
powerful politicians trading upon the boundless 
ignorance of the truth in which they were able to 
keep the public. It cannot be denied that it was 
an experience of grievous personal pain, as well as 
of public misfortune, but it can truly be claimed 
that, if ever I was in danger of sinking under the 
injustice, I had only to re-read the story of the 
generous measure in which the Protestant Parliament 
parted with their privileges and ascendancy in the 
Relief Bill of 1793 to redeem their Catholic brother- 
Irishmen from their degradation — of the all but 
unanimity of the Protestant Bar for a Catholic 
Emancipation which would put an end to their 
monopoly — of the glowing words in which the 
youth of Trinity College threw open their arms to 
the Catholic claims — of the twenty-eight years during 
which Grattan and Plunkett pressed their unflinching 
battle for Emancipation in a brutalized English 


Parliament, before a Catholic Irishman could pass its 
portals ; and, before the page was turned down, the 
spirits of the Protestants of genius who had suffered 
persecution of their own for their noble constancy 
to the friendless Catholic helot, seemed to be suffi- 
ciently near to make it a sacred privilege for Irish 
Catholics to suffer in the converse sense now, when 
there was question of a different ascendancy and of 
different victims. Persecution at the hands of our 
own household, at all events, never weakened our 
determination to resist any counter-ascendancy in 
the hour of triumph for the Catholics as stoutly as 
the leaders of Grattan's Parliament and of the 
United Irishmen met and overthrew the Protestant 
Ascendancy in its own days of insolent power. 

Such was our way of reconciling the Protestant 
minority, in doctrine and in action. To turn to 
our critics' plans for aggravating, embittering, and 
maddening the opposition of the Minority seems 
like laying down the speech of Grattan on the day 
of his Declaration of Independence in order to watch 
the ignoble wars which make horrid the streets of 
Belfast on Anniversary Days, when the mobs of 
"The Orange Walk" and "The Green Walk" 
come into collision and exchange their volleys of 
paving-stones and battle-cries, and beat their drums 
in each other's faces until the blood runs from the 
wrists of the drummers. Young Mr. Winston 
Churchill's raid on Belfast gives us a typical illus- 
tration of the plan of campaign in its boldness and 
in its unwisdom. It was in February 1912, shortly 
before the introduction of Mr. Asquith's Home Rule 
Bill, and at a moment when the most elementary 
prudence, and even decency, ought to have forbidden 
a vulgar challenge to Ulster feeling in the Ulster 
capital on the part of the First Lord of the Admi- 
ralty of the Home Rule Cabinet. That moment was 
chosen for Mr. Devlin's invitation to Mr. Winston 


Churchill to attend an Hibernian torchlight proces- 
sion in his honour in Belfast. The First Lord of 
the Admiralty, in undertaking the raid, gave a first 
blazing example of the indiscretions which were 
afterwards to run his country dangerously near to 
ruin at Ostend and the Dardanelles and Archangel 
and Mesopotamia. It is not enough to plead that, 
in his own estimation, Mr. Churchill's adventure 
was not that of an Hibernian gamin, but of a benign 
statesman. There has always been a dash of 
greatness in his impetuosities. But even his boyish 
self-sufficiency ought not to have blinded him to the 
preposterous folly of his mission of peace under the 
auspices of the Board of Erin Hibernians to that 
very city of Belfast where his father, fresh from his 
desertion of his alliance with Parnell, had appealed 
to the worst passions of the Orangemen with his 
doggerel war-cry : " Ulster will fight and Ulster will 
be right." He speedily realized into what a hornets' 
nest he had thrust himself. The Devlin torchlight 
procession was first given up. Unfortunately, the 
torches were not quenched until they had set fire to 
a powder magazine. He fell back upon an indoor 
meeting in the Ulster Hall. The Ulster Unionist 
Council retorted by hiring the Ulster Hall for a 
meeting on the previous night, after which the 
design was to take and hold armed possession of the 
Hall as long as Mr. Churchill remained in Belfast, 
and Sir E. Carson came over as a rival angel of 
peace to superintend operations. 

The Ulster Hall people gladly accepted the hint 
and cancelled the letting of the Hall for both 
meetings. The triumphant Orangemen flatly 
announced that, First Lord of the Admiralty or no, 
they would allow him no meeting-place within the 
Forbidden City. There was nothing for it but to 
take refuge in a marquee erected on the Celtic 
Football-field on the outskirts of the city and within 


the sheltering arms of the Nationalist quarter, the 
Falls Road. But the First Lord of the Admiralty's 
cup of humiliation was not even yet full. Although 
" six special trains laden with troops " arrived the 
previous day for his protection, and his movements 
were conducted with the utmost secrecy, the First 
Lord allowed himself to be chivied from post to 
pillar by the Orange hooligans, who were waiting for 
him at Larne, mobbed him the moment he reached 
Belfast, thronged around him at the modest hotel at 
which he descended, and ceased not to hoot, and 
sting, and threaten him, until he escaped in the 
midst of a phalanx of policemen and cavalry to the 
faithful Falls Road. There he was safe enough in 
the arms of a Catholic and Nationalist population as 
valiant and true-hearted as the world could produce 
and passed along to the football-ground amidst the 
fluttering of green flags and the belabouring of 
effigies inscribed " Carson, the King of the Bluffers." 
But even there, the luckless Minister was drenched 
with torrents of rain, which penetrated the clothes 
of his listeners through the frail covering of the 
marquee, and when all was over the problem how 
to get the First Lord safely out of Belfast, without 
returning to his hotel, where an enormous Orange 
mob was lying in wait for him, was only solved by 
an escape along a circuitous route to Larne, where 
he was finally placed in safety on board the Glasgow 
boat after a five hours' experience such as rarely 
falls to the lot of a great Minister of State. To 
complete the picture, his competitor angel of peace, 
Sir E. Carson, addressed his triumphant hooligans 
and complimented them upon " their magnificent 

Mr. Winston Churchill's escapade in Belfast — 
the bounce with which it began, and the tameness 
with which he accepted the position that a Cabinet 
Minister protected by " six special trains laden with 


troops " must give up the right of free speech the 
moment the howls and revolvers of the least en- 
lightened section of the Orange populace gave their 
orders — had two fatal effects on the course of events 
in Ulster. It gave wanton offence to the most 
respectable part of the Protestant population, and it 
filled the most retrograde of the Orangemen and 
their leaders with contempt for a Government whose 
poltroonery they took to be even grosser than their 
folly. Mr. Churchill's challenge and his flight, it 
is scarcely an exaggeration to say, had more to do 
with exasperating and crystallising the opposition of 
Ulster to Home Rule than " the King of the 
Bluffers " himself, whose incitements up to that 
time had been addressed to only half-convinced 
and unarmed men. 

While Mr. Devlin's torchlights had thus kindled 
Ulster into a blaze, on the eve of the introduction 
of the Home Rule Bill, his organizers were busy in 
the rest of the country rivalling the unreasonableness 
of Protestant Orangeism by the terror of a Catholic 
Orangeism no less odious to the friends of enlightened 
liberty. As soon as the Home Rule Cabinet was 
installed in power and their Home Rule Bill 
announced, the All-for-Ireland League was so 
determined to prepare for it an untroubled atmos- 
phere that we freely ran the risk of misconstruction 
by an appeal for co-operation among all Nationalists 
to secure the largest possible measure of well- 
considered public sympathy in its support. Even 
after our overtures were scoffed at with the amiable 
taunt that Mr. Healy and I " were now of less 
importance than the rawest recruit in Mr. Redmond's 
Party," we suspended altogether the propaganda of 
the All-for-Ireland League, just as it was beginning 
to spread from county to county and from province 
to province, knowing as we did that our programme 
of meetings, no matter how temperately conducted 


on our part, could only be carried out in the teeth 
of an organized Hibernian opposition with bludgeons 
and revolvers which must disgrace our cause in the 
eyes of the world and lead to the inevitable des- 
truction of the Bill. 1 If our voices were stifled by 

1 One sample must suffice of the methods by which every 
attempt to enlighten the country as to our aims was stamped out. 
On August 27, 1910 (when, be it observed, the Liberal Government 
then in power had definitively declined to include Home Rule in 
their legislative programme) I went down to Mayo to address 
Branches of the All-for-Ireland League, which were spontaneously 
springing up there in all directions. In my first speech at Ballina 
I proposed to give the country a sure means of judging for itself 
where the reproach of " faction " really lay by offering to submit 
myself to an unimpeachable Jury of Honour to take evidence in 
the full hearing of the public how the dissensions of the past 
seven years had arisen. The invitation was, needless to add, 
steadily ignored, notwithstanding my promise to accept a friend of 
old standing of Mr. Dillon's (Hon. Bourke Cockran) as President 
of the Court. The organizers' preparations for breaking up our 
meeting at Ballina were frustrated by an overwhelming demonstra- 
tion of welcome on the part of the people. All the emissaries of 
the Board of Erin were able to compass was that during the 
speech of Mr. D. D. Sheehan, m.p., a revolver was discharged 
from a dark corner and a bullet was embedded in the framework 
of the window from which he was speaking. The next day at 
Crossmolina, the organizers (they were no less than four) who 
had been specially despatched to the district from headquarters 
were more successful. On reaching Crossmolina, Mr. Sheehan 
and myself were ambushed by an armed mob headed by three 
priests, whose incitements and physical misconduct it would be 
too painful to detail. We had to pass through scenes of 
blackguardism (culminating in a fusilade of revolver shots fired by 
a Board of Erin ringleader who had just been appointed to an 
important Government office in the neighbourhood), for a 
description of which we may trust to an authority so little suspect 
as the Freeman's Journal. Its reporter, in a burst of irrepressible 
indignation, thus relates what he observed from his own 
standpoint : 

" When Crossmolina was reached, it was seen that stormy 
times were ahead. A strong force of police were drawn across 
the Main Street, and behind them was massed a large crowd, 
who, on the appearance of Mr. O'Brien's party, manifested their 
hostility in an unmistakeable way, shouting and waving sticks in 


organized violence and by still fouler methods in the 
Press, it cannot be doubted it was because the cabal 
realized that the Irish people had only to be allowed 
the opportunity of hearing for themselves the argu- 
ments for and against the two programmes which 
divided the country, and they would have recoiled 
with horror from the policy of mad sectarianism 
of which they were being made the unconscious 
instruments. The Home Rule Bill once produced 
in the House of Commons, no further public con- 
troversy was to be thought of. The people knew 
nothing further and understood nothing further until 
the mischief had been done beyond repair. This 
was how it came to pass that the sinister secret 
organization which Cardinal Logue had described as, 
in his own archdiocese, " a pest, a cruel tyranny, 
and an organized system of blackguardism," spread 

a threatening manner. Before reaching this point the horses had 
been taken from Mr. O'Brien's carriage and a crowd of his 
supporters drew it along at the head of the procession up to the 
point where its further progress was impeded by the police 
cordon .... Mr. O'Brien crying out : ' Drive right ahead.' . . . 
the carriage, drawn at a rapid pace, proceeded to run the 
blockade, and then a scene occurred which no thoughtful 
Irishman with any pretensions to patriotism could regard with 
feelings other than those of regret. Mr. O'Brien was standing 
in the carriage, and a fierce fusillade of stones, bottles, and eggs, 
thrown with great force, were directed towards him. He did not 
flinch, and though the missiles seemed to rain all round him, 
happily not one of them struck him. . . . The intervals between 
the speeches were interspersed with band-playing and drum- 
beating, and a few stones more were thrown at Mr. O'Brien's 
party and one revolver shot discharged." And the same scenes 
of violence — revolver-shots, stones, and bottles — were repeated on 
our departure, one of the chief merchants of Ballina, Mr. Moylett, 
having his skull fractured as be sat by my side. A few months 
later, in the same county, under the superintendence of another 
crop of organizers from Belfast, my wife and myself were fired 
on at Lecanvey, and the lamp of our motor-car shattered by a 
bullet, and at Achill a few days afterwards our chauffeur was fired 
on again and a revolver-bullet lodged in his arm. 


its tentacles over every parish in the country — with 
the blessings and the doubled subscriptions," it 
must with a pang be owned, of some of His 
Eminence's brethren in the Hierarchy — reducing the 
wholesome public influence of the United Irish 
League to a shadow, feeding its own disciples fat 
with governmental and local offices and honours, 
enkindling the honest alarms of Protestant Ulster to 
a white heat, and making Sir E. Carson's task an 
easy one of uniting the most peacefully-minded of 
the Protestant and Presbyterian farmers and shop- 
keepers with the fiery Orange fanatics of Belfast in 
resistance to the new racial and religious exclusiveness. 
A blindfolded people, in setting up the " Party 
Unity " of the Liberalized Hibernian politicians for 
their god, destroyed the last hope of " National 
Unity," which was the thing that really mattered, 
and destroyed " The Party," and their nation with it. 




Mr. Asquith's Home Rule Bill of 1 912 was proclaimed 
to be " a final settlement," and was so accepted with 
effusion by the Irish Party. All was staked upon the 
assurance that it was " a greater measure of Iris 
freedom than Grattan's or Gladstone's " and that, 
it were only accepted by Ireland without debate, its 
passage into law was (in a favourite figure of speech) 
" as certain as the rising of to-morrow's sun." In 
the endeavour to ensure this conspiracy of silence 
in Ireland, it may with truth be said that what pur- 
ported to be a Bill to establish her legislative 
independence, was forced upon Ireland sans phrase 
by methods as unconstitutional as had ever been 
resorted to for the imposition of some hideous 
Coercion Act. The Irish Party itself (which must 
henceforth be more truthfully described as the 
Hibernian Party) abdicated all right to discuss or to 
interfere, even in its private conclaves. So far as 
the representatives of Ireland exercised any voice in 
the fate of their nation, it was done by three leaders 
in a few furtive interviews in Downing St. — not even 
(unless rumour lied) with the Prime Minister, but with 
some subordinate like the excellent Mr. Birrell, who 
was always perfectly accommodating and always 
cheerfully ineffectual. Mr. Dillon's plea that the 
Bill was " the best we could get," was a sufficient 
attestation how poor a part was played in the con- 
struction of the Bill by the Irishmen who held the 
power of life and death over the great folk in Downing 
St. Any real discussion in Ireland was laid under a 


stern interdict. The Hibernian National Convention, 
summoned nominally to debate the merits or demerits 
of the Bill, were, after the manner of the Baton Con- 
vention, bidden by an eminent ecclesiastical ring- 
leader to " keep their amendments in their pockets " 
and did not, as a matter of fact, suggest the smallest 
amendment, or perform any other function than that 
of re-echoing the hi' falutin panegyrics of the 
Parliamentarians. So a silenced country succeeded 
a silenced Parliamentary Party. From beginning 
to end of the debates upon a Bill involving the " final " 
fate of Ireland in all her most tremendous concerns, 
her representatives did not suggest a solitary amend- 
ment and were not suffered to bear any part in the 
debates beyond applauding the two or three " safe " 
leaders who were at very rare intervals put up to speak 
for them, or savagely resenting any criticism of the 
Irish finance of Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Herber 
Samuel. They were more like slaves kneeling to 
kiss hands on their manumission than freemen standing 
up for the rights of their nation. A Bill which all 
men now know to be as full of faults as a sieve is of 
holes passed through Committee without the alteration 
of a line at the instance of the country it most vitally 
concerned. So complete was the machinery by which 
the Irish people were prevented from discussing or 
even understanding the provisions of the Bill or the 
ignominious misconduct of their representatives 
during its passage through Parliament that, when, 
after four tongue-tied years of humiliation for the 
country, the Bill was nominally transferred to the 
Statute Book, an innocent Irish public actually allowed 
bonfires to be lighted in their name in celebration of 
the event, without the smallest suspicion that what 
they were really celebrating was the consent of the 
representatives of Ireland to the Partition of the 
country thus mocked with a forged title-deed to 
freedom. And the Hibernian and Liberal parties to 


the deceit professed to be surprised beyond measure 
when the young generation who were all this time 
meditating in silence these intolerable affronts to the 
honour and even to the intelligence of their nation, 
sprang to arms in the Easter Week of 19 16, and gave 
Parliamentarianism its quietus ! 

It seems scarcely necessary to insist. It was Mr. 
Redmond's fate, however, to be obliged to go on 
vociferating that his goose was a swan of the finest 
down. Even after three years for reflection, in a 
public letter to the Dublin Corporation (July 20th, 
19 1 5), he committed himself to the preposterous 
boast that : — ■ 

" The Home Rule Act of last year is a better Act 
than the Bill of 1886, which Mr. Parnell accepted as 
a settlement and is a far better and freer constitution 
than Grattan and the Volunteers won in 1782." 

It was a claim that could only have been made to a 
public kept in blank ignorance of the provisions of 
the measure. To the most infatuated of his dupes 
it would at this time of day sound like a cruel sarcasm. 
One test — that of Finance — will suffice to expose the 
absurdity of his representation of a Devolution Bill 
which in all other respects was on the same level of 
national dignity as the Parliament of Saskatchewan. 
Grattan's Parliament had the uncontested power of 
the purse. England could not levy a shilling in 
taxation or take a man for her army or navy except 
with its consent. Under Asquith Home Rule, the 
power of taxation would have remained absolutely 
and without limit at Westminster. The unfortunate 
Dublin Parliament had no appeal from any levies of 
the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, except to 
a Joint Exchequer Board of which the British 
Chancellor would command a majority of the votes. 
Ireland might, indeed, add to the tremendous burdens 
laid upon her by the British Budget certain fantastic 
taxes of her own, but the power was so silly a play- 


thing that Mr. Herbert Samuel could suggest no other 
local tax open to the Irish Parliament except a tax 
upon bicycles or advertisements. 

As for the Bill of 1886 (which it was false to 
suggest Parnell " accepted as a settlement ") it was 
at least a Bill which to begin with separated the 
Parliament of Ireland altogether from that of 
Westminster, while the Asquith Act not only 
retained the connection and the subjection of 
Ireland in its most humiliating form, but reduced her 
representation from 103 to 42 in the Parliament where 
the power of the purse lay. Nor was that all. Parnell 
had obtained an amendment of the Bill of 1886 limiting 
for thirty years Ireland's Imperial contribution to 
£3,132,000, while if the Asquith Act had been in full 
force the Imperial Parliament would have been as 
free as it has been without it to raise Ireland's Imperial 
contribution to the colossal figure of £25,000,000 per 
annum. Had the Bill of 1886 prevailed, the Imperial 
Chancellor would have no power to augment Ireland's 
contribution by a pound during the first three years 
of the World War, and could only have attempted it 
even then by calling back Ireland's 103 representatives 
to Westminster to have their say, while under the 
slippery finance of Mr. Samuel, England was left 
free to exact Imperial contributions from Ireland 
£20,000,000 a year greater than the maximum 
stipulated for by Parnell. Such was the measure 
which Mr. Redmond did not hesitate to describe as 
" the greatest charter of liberty ever offered to 
Ireland," and for its financial flaws Mr. Devlin, 
who had perhaps neglected to read the text of the 
Bill at all split the ears of the groundlings with the 
cry : " Freedom first, and finance afterwards ! " 
Without adverting to the possibility which every- 
body now knows to be the truth that the caricature of 
" Freedom " might be as sorry an imposture as the 
finances were dishonest. 


Were my colleagues and myself wise or unwise in 
making the best of the Asquith Bill instead of slaying 
it if it remained unamended ? God knoweth ! The 
drastic course would have been the tempting as well 
as the easy one. It is scarcely too much to say that 
the unmatched Parliamentary resources of Mr. Tim 
Healy alone would have sufficed to bring the Bill to 
certain shipwreck. We had no responsibility for the 
character of the Bill. One evening at the rising of 
the House in November, 1911, while there was still 
ample time for deliberation, I called attention to a 
forecast of the Bill in the Ministerial organ, the Daily 
News, in substance foreshadowing the Bill of the next 
Session in its worst weaknesses, and I appealed to 
the Government, if the forecast were well founded, to 
take Ireland into his confidence in good time and give 
her people some opportunity for friendly remonstrance. 
My observations were half-drowned by the chorus of 
offensive interruptions in which the least reputable of 
the Hibernians were now habitually joined by a knot 
of newly elected Radicals and Labour men below the 
Ministerial gangway on the rare occasions when my 
colleagues and myself sought a hearing, but they were 
received in a different spirit by the Prime Minister, 
who assured me nothing had yet been decided upon 
and made an earnest appeal for the communication 
to the Ministry of any suggestions of my own. Mr. 
Healy lost no time in marking the contrast between 
the grave courtesy of the Prime Minister and the ill- 
manners of his followers. The invitation was one 
not to be shirked. In consultation with my colleagues, 
I drew up a Memorandum, in which we made no 
disguise of our own conviction that Dominion Home 
Rule, with unfettered Fiscal Autonomy, would be the 
safest, as well as boldest, remedy for the quarrel 
between the two countries, but should this be dis- 
missed, as for the moment impracticable in its fulness, 
we did not rule out some farseeing experiment in Federa- 


tion which would in practice gradually conquer the 
objections to the larger extension of independence. 
The Memorandum at the same time laid down as 
essentials two requirements which excited the bitter 
hostility of the Hibernian Party at the time, but the 
absence of which from the Bill when it was produced 
it is evident enough to all men now was the secret of the 
calamitous breakdown of Asquithian Home Rule — 
viz., generous concessions such as would have disarmed 
all rational opposition in Ulster to a National Parlia- 
ment, and the removal of the last great social stumbling 
block in the way of an Irish Parliament by the com- 
pletion of Land Purchase as an Imperial transaction. 
The following was the reply of the Prime Minister : — 

" Confidential. 

10, Downing St., Whitehall S.W., 

7th Nov., 191 1. 
Dear Mr. O'Brien, 

I am greatly obliged by your letter of the 4th and 
my colleagues and I will give most careful attention 
to its contents. 

Yours very faithfully, 

H. H. Asquith." 
"W. O'Brien, Esq., M.P." 

This was the only communication vouchsafed to 
the representatives of at least 500,000 hereditary 
Nationalists who had been foremost in the fight when 
fight was the word of order — whose temper of con- 
ciliation when conciliation was the truest patriotism 
English statesmanship would now give freely of its 
treasures to restore — representatives, moreover, who, 
it has since been made plain, spoke the secret thoughts 
of the Irish Unionists of the South and in a surprising 
degree of the North as well. The explanation is, of 
course, simple enough. The Memorandum after 
receiving " the most careful attention " of Mr. Asquith 
and his colleagues had to be passed along to their 


Hibernian advisers and was never heard of more. 
When I had to make up my mind what to say on the 
First Reading of the Bill, it was under the cruel dis- 
advantage of never having received the smallest hint, 
oral or written, of what its contents were to be until 
I heard them disclosed by the lips of the Prime 

Nevertheless, disappointing as was the revelation 
when it came, I took up without hesitation on that 
night the attitude of cordial friendliness and help- 
fulness towards the Bill which my friends and myself 
never relaxed until, two years afterwards, the Bill was 
turned into a hideous compact for the Partition of the 
country. It was impossible to hear the Prime 
Minister without realizing and saying — " Let there 
be no mistake about it — the Home Rule of this Bill 
is not Grattan's Parliament, it is not Repeal of the 
Union, it is not Colonial Home Rule any more than 
it is an Irish Republic "—without deploring that the 
Cabinet had rejected the recommendation of their 
own Committee of Experts that " the Irish Parliament 
should be equipped with fiscal independence fully 
and at once in the raising of their own revenue " — 
without asking " fair-minded opponents of this Bill 
to remember that however much we are ready to 
renounce in our eagerness for a genuine and enduring 
peace with the people of England and with those who 
were once called the English Garrison in Ireland, it 
is a solemn thing for the representatives of an ancient 
cause to make up their minds to sacrifice so much that 
entered into the dreams that came as naturally to some 
of us as the blood in our veins in order to purchase 
peace between the two countries " ; but first and^last, 
I made it clear that : " whatever the ultimate fate of 
this Bill may be, I cannot conceive of any Nationalist 
of any type or school who will not approach its con- 
sideration with the deepest respect and with an anxious 
desire to put the most favourable construction upon 


it," declaring finally my own deep conviction that 
" the success of an Irish Parliament must depend to a 
large degree upon its being won by the consent rather 
than by the compulsion of the Protestant minority 
and I for one would be prepared to go to any reasonable 
length, or even to some unreasonable lengths, to 
secure that co-operation and good- will." 

To the attitude thus promptly taken up and 
never departed from, the reply was the chorus of 
" factionist " and " traitor " from that moment 
shouted incessantly into the ears of a people who 
were denied every chance of reading my words : with 
how much justice may be inferred from the judgment 
of two men from opposite standpoints. John Burns, 
then in the summer of his democratic power, came 
over to say to me : " That is a speech that does credit 
to your head and to your heart." The observations 
of William Moore, afterwards a Justice of the High 
Court, and then the most characteristic leader of the 
Orange Party in Ulster were these : 

" I believe myself that the hon. member for Cork 
is perfectly right in the policy he has again and again 
announced to Ireland ; that it is no use talking about 
Home Rule for all Ireland unless you get the 
Protestants of Ireland to consent to it. That is 
absolutely true. If our consent were won, as I said 
the other day, there would be very little difficulty 
about the matter. But since the hon. gentleman, the 
member for Cork, has thrown out a Policy of Con- 
ciliation, which means the right hand of fellowship for 
Protestants, the mere fact of his doing so has brought 
upon him attacks from the Ancient Order of Hibernians 
and others." 

My first impression without an hour for deliberation 
proved to be the sound one, as soon as the Bill was in 
print. The National Conference of the All-for- 
Ireland League met in Cork on May 25th, 19 12, to 
determine our action on the Second Reading. Nobody 


who analyses the seven and a half closely printed pages 
of names will dispute that the assembly contained an 
overwhelming number of the representative men of 
the South, with not a few of the men of power from the 
most distant parts of the country as well. 1 Had such 
an assembly pronounced against the Bill, or even given 
an ambiguous verdict, nothing could have saved the 
Government measure in a country already raging 
against its insignificance as a national settlement. 
There was neither a wavering note nor one of false 
lyricism. The first Clause of the Bill ran : " On 
and after the appointed day there shall be in Ireland 
an Irish Parliament consisting of His Majesty the 
King and two Houses, namely, the Irish Senate and 
the Irish House of Commons." It was the solemn 
compact for a United Ireland, ruled by an Irish 
Parliament, one and indivisible — a compact destined 
to be afterwards shamefully repudiated and annulled. 
It was the only Clause savouring of National Inde- 
pendence in the 48 Clauses, but it was enough for 
those of us who could have forgiven even the Irish 
Council Bill everything for its being based on an 
undivided Ireland, and the present compromise, 
beggarly though it was, was nevertheless like the 
other " consistent with and leading up to the larger 

1 With the exception of one potent element. By a technical 
ecclesiastical ordinance the clergy were forbidden to be present. 
Mr. Healy, a Catholic in every fibre of body and soul, made a 
thrilling allusion to an incident as the Conference were assembling 
when a famous parish priest from Tipperary — Father Matt Ryan — 
" who had been with us in all the stirring times of sacrifice in the 
past, and now, when we are on the verge of victory, found himself 
turned back and forbidden to partake of our triumph " — adding 
with prophetic vision : " I do think that hereafter it will not be 
forgotten, should division arise between laity and clergy, that it 
was on the important occasion of an Irish Parliament Bill that 
Irish priests were refused the liberty of rallying round us." 
Father Matt Ryan was, a few years later, one of the foremost 
figures in the Sinn Fein reaction which overthrew a Parliamentar- 
anism rendered hateful by such methods. 


policy." The National Conference not only refused 
to follow the Hibernian precedent in the case of the 
Irish Council Bill of first blessing and then rejecting 
the Bill with a war-whoop, but promised it a whole- 
hearted support subject to three amendments which 
our critics have since spent bitter years in endeavouring 
to resuscitate when too late : — viz., a reconstruction 
of what Mr. Healy compendiously described as the 
" putrid " finances of the Bill ; the completion of 
the Abolition of Landlordism by Imperial credit ; 
and such concessions to the apprehensions (however 
imaginary) of " Ulster " as would have delivered the 
country from any peril of Partition. 

One other particularity has to be noted. The 
pretext for the malignity with which Lord Dunraven 
and the Irish Unionists who followed him were 
pursued was that they were really engaged in a con- 
spiracy to make Home Rule impossible. To 
calumnies like this the pronouncements of the 
Unionists at the National Conference gave a noble 
answer. They were all for amending, none for 
wrecking, and amending in the direction of uniting 
and enlarging the powers of the Irish Nation. Lord 
Dunraven, in a letter to myself, touched with a sure 
hand what might have been and what still easily might 
be : — 

" I pray you to use your best endeavours to secure 
for our Parliament fairplay and a fair chance and I 
pray you never cease from striving to make us a nation. 
Had your National and patriotic policy been carried 
on during these wasted years since the Land Con- 
ference, this outburst of irreconcileable opinion in 
the North could never have taken place. Differences 
of opinion there always will be and ought to be, but 
they ought to be subordinated to a sense of unity — a 
sense of Nationality, a determination to work together 
in friendship for our country's good." 

Mr. Moreton Frewen, whose brain and winning 



personality wanted nothing but a dose of the politician's 
guile to give him a high place among the world's states- 
men — who had parted with his estate to his tenants at 
a most equitable price — who had surrendered his Irish 
seat in Parliament rather than support a Parliament 
Bill which, in his eyes, in antagonising a mutilated 
House of Lords would destroy an unequalled means 
of reassuring and conciliating Ulster, and was more 
vilely abused for his chivalry in still indomitably 
sticking to the All-for-Ireland Cause than he would 
have been if he had justified his ungenerous assailants 
by betraying it — Mr. Moreton Frewen made a speech 
in which he foreshadowed the disaster of Partition 
as clearsightedly as all the world is discussing it 
to-day : 

" Do let us be careful — I know Mr. O'Brien is as 
careful as possible — about the susceptibilities of Ulster. 
We do not want Ireland to be partitioned. We have 
lost the opportunity of generations. Two years ago 
the Home Rule atmosphere was clear. We should 
have gone forward two years ago and got a settlement. 
The Land Purchase scheme which we owe to Mr. 
O'Brien and Lord Dunraven was going on magically — 
so admirably that all the difficulties in this country 
and in England were enormously relieved. Lord 
Grey at Ottawa told me we were within arms' length 
of the settlement of the Irish question by consent. 
Lord Milner had come into our camp full of anxiety 
and determination to settle the Home Rule question 
on Federal lines. Lord Minto and Lord Dudley 
were of the same mind. Had these four men gone 
North to the chiefs of Ulster and asked for a con- 
ciliatory and friendly settlement of the question, I 
believe we should have got the whole difficulty well 
in hand before this time. It is not too late for this 
yet. These things are still all ahead of us. But 
if you are going to allow the situation to be controlled 
by Mr. John Redmond or rather by Dillon and by 


Devlin, I am quite convinced the danger which sticks 
out of our present troubles is probably the partition 
of Ireland. ... I sympathise with Mr. O'Brien 
in the stand he is making, and am anxious not to say 
one word that by any possibility would make his task 
more difficult than it is. There is nothing any man 
can do that in my humble way I will not do to assist 
the cause of the All-for-Ireland League." 

And to the last hour, while even the smallest strength 
was left in the arm of the All-for-Ireland League, Mr. 
Moreton Frew en was true to his word. Every 
succeeding Unionist speaker — Sir John Keane of 
Cappoquin, Mr. Villiers Stuart of Dromana, Dr. 
Thompson of Omagh — showed the same delicate 
sense of the difficulties, the same eager determination 
to turn the Bill with all its flaws to the best account 
as the most fervid of the veteran Nationalists who 
thronged the platform and whose sons while these 
pages are being written (1921) are on the hills as 
soldiers of the Irish Republican Army. The Con- 
ference offered one more opportunity for that co- 
operation of all Irish Parties by which the Bill in 
Committee might still have been built up into a great 
measure of national appeasement. It was not on my 
part, either then or at any critical moment before or 
after, the first tender of a fraternal hand was missing : 

" Every speech that Mr. Redmond now makes in 
the House of Commons is a glowing tribute to our 
principle? and a crushing condemnation of those of 
Mr. Dillon and Mr. Devlin. . . . But it is never too 
late to bury the hatchet. We are quite willing to 
forgive and forget all past differences, if even now it 
be made possible for us. We are perfectly willing 
to suspend all controversy amongst Irish Nationalists 
until the fate of this Bill is decided one way or the 
other. If the majority of the representatives of 
Ireland will even now unite with us in inducing the 
Government — in forcing the Government as beyond 


all doubt they have the power to do — in forcing the 
Government to give the Irish people satisfaction in 
these three particulars (freedom of taxation, com- 
pletion of Land Purchase and friendly negotiation to 
secure the good-will of our Protestant countrymen), 
I am in my heart convinced that even on the lines 
of this present Bill and much as we may have to re- 
nounce, Ireland may still win a future of solid happi- 
ness, prosperity and peace. We for our part will do 
all that men can do to carry it, and we shall gladly 
leave it to our countrymen hereafter to say whether 
it was an unpardonable crime on our part to insist 
that the national settlement should be won upon 
conditions that will banish for ever from the face of 
Ireland the horrors and animosities of agrarian war 
and that will incorporate once and for all in the blood 
and bone of our Irish nation a million of the hardy 
Protestant breed of the Grattans, and the Emmets 
and the Parnells." 

Here was a bid for that joint action in Committee 
which must in the nature of things have resulted in 
vast modifications of the Bill, and all of them in 
directions now recognised to have been vital ameliora- 
tions in the interest of Irish freedom. It was the 
occasion of all others for giving effect to the condition 
to which the Irish Party had pledged itself in the 
reunion of 1908 of " cordially welcoming the co- 
operation of Irishmen of all classes and creeds willing 
to aid in the attainment of the complete abolition of 
Landlordism " (among other objects). As a matter 
of fact, no Irish newspaper except the Cork Free Press 
gave a serious report of the proceedings of the National 
Conference — its composition, or its arguments or its 
proposals. They were never heard of at all in England, 
where the newspapers derived their Irish information 
from correspondents in the offices of the Hibernian 
organs. The Hibernian leaders contemptuously 
spurned the last chance of establishing an under- 


standing with Ulster or of obtaining the alleviation 
or even consideration of the Finance Clauses, and 
went on their way towards Partition with an uproarious 
optimism that never deserted them until they toppled 
over into the abyss and dragged " Constitutional " 
Home Rule with them. 1 

1 The following reply of the Freeman's Journal to my offer of 
co-operation throws a flood of light upon the spirit then rampant 
in the Hibernian camp : 

" It is to be feared that ' All Ireland ' will not take very 
seriously the proceedings at Cork. Mr. William O'Brien and 
Mr. Timothy Healy were once persons of importance in Irish 
politics. Now it is not too much to assert that their views upon 
any serious Irish question are of less importance than those of 
the rawest recruit to the Irish ranks. It really does not matter 
what they say about the Home Rule Bill. Mr. O'Brien knew 
that he dare not lay a little finger upon the Bill to prevent its 
passage, and that if he did he and his ' party ' would disappear 
from Parliament at the next election. . . . There were only two 
speeches of interest at Cork ; they were delivered by Mr. O'Brien's 
converts, Sir John Keane and Mr. Moreton Frewen. From the 
reports to hand, it is not possible to gather exactly the views of 
the brace about the Home Rule Bill ; but there is no mistake as 
to what the converts want. ' Give us Land Purchase and the 
devil take Home Rule ' would be no unfair representation of 
their view." 




We have seen that the first year of " the Home Rule 
Parliament " was sold away to Mr. Lloyd George for 
his Insurance Act. The most precious part of the 
second year was still more curiously wasted. After 
the formality of the Second Reading of the Home 
Rule Bill and the first Clause of a Bill consisting of 
48 Clauses and four Schedules disposed of, the sub- 
stantial work in Committee was postponed over the 
summer months and was only approached in the 
languor of an Autumn Session. There was no over- 
pressure of other work to excuse this second encroach- 
ment upon the time of what was to be known as " The 
Home Rule Session." Two days of every week 
during the wasted months were given up to the 
academic Motions and Bills of private Members, 
which are unceremoniously bundled out of the way 
by any Government intent on real business. When 
the business of Committee was really tackled it was 
prefaced by a Closure-by-Compartment Motion, 
the object of which too plainly was to guillotine any 
attempt to amend the Bill from the Nationalist stand- 
point, and which had the no less mischievous result 
in Britain of creating a suspicion that a constitutional 
revolution of so much consequence was to be hustled 
through without giving England time to discuss, or 
even understand it. The dilapidation of the second 
year of " the Home Rule Parliament," like the 
surrender of the first, could not, of course, have 
occurred without the complicity of the Hibernian 


Party. The Bill must go through without amendment 
or discussion in the shape fixed by that super-Parlia- 
ment at the Downing St. breakfast table. My friends 
and myself (we never formed ourselves into a Party 
nor elected a leader) were so determined to put any 
imputation of wasting time out of the question that 
we only proposed to persevere with two amendments, 
of which no man will now be found to dispute the 
necessity. The closure-by-compartment time-table, 
as will be seen presently, managed to strangle even 
the few hours' discussion that would have sufficed 
for these two amendments, and did so by tricks which 
reflected discredit, and indeed dishonour upon the 
Ministers who had recourse to them. We made our 
protest against methods which we feared " might be 
peculiarly dangerous to the ultimate fate of the Bill," 
and which would have been quite unnecessary had 
not progress in Committee during the most valuable 
months of the Session been unaccountably blocked. 
Nevertheless, we added : "If the Government and 
their Irish advisers, who are responsible for the 
management of business, tell us that there is nothing 
else for it, if the Bill is to have any chance of going 
through this Session, we acquiesce." Let us now 
see how our appeal to the Prime Minister, " whom 
I had always found to be a man to his word," for 
" a fair and square discussion " of the two amend- 
ments that remained was answered. 

1. A Bill of 48 Clauses contained only a single 
line referring to the tremendous subject of completing 
the abolition of Landlordism, and this so peculiarly 
worded as seemingly to rule any discussion of the 
subject out of order. The result would have been to 
confront the infant Irish Parliament with more than 
one hundred thousand farmers whom the Act of 1909 
had disabled from purchasing, and either to transfer 
to Ireland the Imperial task of financing the operation, 
or to replunge the country into stark anarchy. This, 


indeed, it was too obvious, was the very design of the 
equivocal line of reference to Land Purchase, for Mr. 
Dillon in his crazy quarrel with the landlords and the 
Land Conference settlement, thought he was serving 
the cause of Home Rule by publicly bragging at this 
juncture that the Bill would leave the landlords at the 
mercy of the Irish Parliament, and that the Imperial 
Parliament would no longer be there to protect them. 
Parnell had foreseen the difficulty of leaving an Irish 
Parliament loaded with so intolerable a responsibility. 
One of the two stipulations as to the future of Home 
Rule upon which he insisted during our Boulogne 
negotiations of 189 1, and which were formally accepted 
by Gladstone and Morley, was that any Home Rule 
Bill must provide for the whole land settlement being 
undertaken by the Imperial Parliament simultaneously 
or all but simultaneously under a penalty which no 
Imperial Parliament was likely to incur of leaving 
" the English Garrison " to their fate as the passions 
or the financial necessities of an Irish legislature might 
decide it. Our Land Purchase Amendment was 
simply a paraphrase of the words and figures of the 
compact between Gladstone and Parnell : 

" It would be obviously inconsistent with the 
concession of Home Rule to Ireland that the power 
to deal with the laws relating to land in Ireland should 
be permanently confined to the Imperial Parliament. 
It will have to be exercised simultaneously with the 
establishment of Home Rule or within a limited period 
thereafter to be specified in the Home Rule Bill or the 
power to deal with it must be committed to the local 

When I questioned the Prime Minister whether 
he would give effect to the undertaking of Gladstone 
by accepting our amendment, he first denied any 
knowledge of such an undertaking. Pressed to make 
inquiries, he made a shambling acknowledgment that 
the undertaking had been given as the condition for 


Parnell's retirement from the leadership, but Parnell 
not having retired the Boulogne compact fell to the 
ground and nothing further came of it. This 
amazingly deceitful reply must have been supplied 
by Mr. Morley, who was himself the medium for 
Gladstone's acceptance of the Boulogne stipulations. 
In assuring the House of Commons that Gladstone's 
undertaking on the land went no further, he was the 
victim of a lapse of memory so egregious as to lay 
himself open to the suspicion of misleading the House 
of Commons in a vital matter of good faith between 
the two countries. Mr. Healy's memory — an 
encyclopaedia of the Parliamentary affairs of the 
previous quarter of a century — enabled me to meet 
the Prime Minister with a staggering exposure of the 
untruth. Not only was it untrue to represent that 
nothing further was heard of the Boulogne stipulation, 
but I was able to read out for him the clause of the 
Home Rule Bill of 1893 — framed by the Government 
of which Mr. Asquith and Mr. Morley were mem- 
bers — by which Gladstone honourably acquitted 
himself of his promise to Parnell in almost the very 
words of the Boulogne Compact. Clause 35 read as 
follows : 

" 35 — During three years from the 
passing of this Act, and if Parlia- 
ment is then sitting until the end 
of that Session of Parliament, the 
Irish Legislature shall not pass 
an Act respecting the relations of 
landlord and tenant, orgthe sale, 
purchase, or letting of land 
The Prime Minister admitted the House of 
Commons had been led astray as to a capital fact in 
the history of the Gladstone Cabinet, of which he was 
himself a member, but he took no steps to make 
amends by honestly incorporating in his own Bill the 


Clause which Gladstone had conceived himself bound 
in honour to insert in the Bill of 1893. Once more 
no doubt it was his Hibernian advisers who carried 
the day. Mr. Redmond who first came into pro- 
minence as Parnell's chief supporter in the Split of 
1890 and who, with Parnell and myself, had negotiated 
the Boulogne compact with Gladstone and Mr. 
Morley, opened not his lips to compel this act of 
justice to be done to his dead chief. The leader 
felt himself compelled as usual to follow his followers, 
and they celebrated as if it were in some curious way 
a triumph for Ireland our failure to get the Prime 
Minister to reincorporate in his Home Rule Bill the 
clause which Gladstone had felt bound to add to the 
Bill of 1893, to Parnell's honour and to his own. In 
a measure purporting to take thought for Ireland's 
future peace and concord the unsettled portion of the 
Land Problem was deliberately left unsettled as a 
standing provocation to chaos and bad blood. 

The way in which our amendment was shelved by 
a new and equally delusive promise was characteristic. 
By a coincidence which was now becoming chronic, 
the Prime Minister was indisposed when the debate 
came on, but he commissioned Mr. Birrell to give a 
pledge " given with such solemnity on a subject of 
so much seriousness, given on the word of a British 
Minister across the floor of the House," that Mr. 
Healy generously accepted it as"a pledge as good for 
us as if it were the law of the land." Mr. Birrell 
promised with almost passionate eagerness on behalf 
of the Prime Minister that, if our amendment were 
withdrawn, " this Government absolutely recognises 
its full and complete responsibility quite apart from the 
fate or fortunes of the Bill now in Committee," and 
that " we are absolutely committed to the completion 
of Land Purchase at the earliest possible day." He 
even protested that he himself, whose Act of 1909 
had repealed the great measure of 1903, was so 


fanatically devoted to Land Purchase that in his 
judgment " the completion of Land Purchase is more 
important than Home Rule itself." Nothing could 
be sweeter nor more deceptive. Parnell's design for 
forcing the Imperial Parliament to action was to 
compel them by a clause in the Statute to hand over 
the whole subject to the Irish Parliament if the 
Imperial Parliament should prove dilatory. That 
security was now gone. The subject was to be 
wholly reserved to the Imperial Parliament with, 
indeed, the Government's all too vehement pledge to 
settle it "at the earliest possible moment whatever 
the fate of the Home Rule Bill." The promise thus 
solemnly sworn in order to evade our amendment, 
was, like all the rest, shamelessly broken. Mr. 
Asquith during the years of his Premiership at the 
head of the Home Rule Government and of the First 
Coalition never budged an inch to complete Land 
Purchase. Mr. Lloyd George's Second Coalition 
Government later undertook to pass simultaneously 
with their latest " Home Rule " performance (the 
disastrous Partition Act of 1920) an Act for the 
completion of Land Purchase on Imperial credit. As 
these pages are written, nine years after the rejection 
of our amendment, Irish deputations are ghosting the 
British Ministers and the Treasury with vain lamenta- 
tions that their promises to Ireland have been once 
more cynically broken, and the promised Land 
Purchase Bill stands adjourned to the Greek Kalends. 1 
But an amendment, which might have aided power- 
fully in disarming the opposition of Ulster to Home 

1 Later Note (1922). — Now that the Irish Provisional Govern- 
ment is in operation one of its most cruel difficulties is the outcry 
of " the unpurchased tenants " (left " unpurchased " wholly 
through the unwisdom of Mr. Dillon) for the completion of Land 
Purchase by an Irish State without the necessary credit to finance 
it, and as a consequence the reopening of the agrarian difficulty 
in a more ruinous form than ever. 


Rule, as well as healed the last running sore of social 
disturbance in the country, was successfully got out 
of the way, and in the words of old Caspar, on the 
field of Blenheim : "It was a famous victory ! " 

2. Our interference on the question of Finance 
was limited to a single appeal for the modification of 
a scheme for which no responsible man will now offer 
a word of defence. Our case was one to which nothing 
short of sheer Parliamentary bullying could have 
denied a fair hearing. I pointed out to Mr. Lloyd 
George, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
that the freedom profferred to Ireland point-blank 
refused her freedom of taxation — the first postulate 
of all true liberty. Ireland would be left at the mercy 
of an Imperial taxmaster in the Westminster Parlia- 
ment — a Parliament too in which Ireland's representa- 
tion was to be cut down by two-thirds. The derisory 
powers of taxation nominally given to the Dublin 
Parliament could only be exercised after the Imperial 
Chancellor had first exacted his last pound of flesh. 
The refusal of fiscal independence was the more 
flagrant a wrong that its concession was recommended 
by the Primrose Committee of experts called in by the 
Cabinet themselves to advise them — a Committee 
of whose seven members only one was an Irishman. 
There was little difficulty in showing that the Budget 
actually worked out under the Bill as it stood was a 
mass of contradictions and injustices. It was founded 
upon the repudiation of Ireland's historic claim — 
endorsed by the Childers' Royal Commission of 1896 
and by the Cabinet's own financial advisers, the 
Primrose Committee, that Ireland had been wronged 
by the English Treasury every year since the Union 
in over-taxation estimated by so competent an 
authority as Lord MacDonnell to amount to 
£3i5>ooo,ooo in all. For this balance-sheet between 
the two countries was now substituted without a 
word of protest except our own from the representa- 


tives of Ireland the new and impudent claim on which 
Mr. Herbert Samuel based the finances of the Bill, 
namely that, contrary to all the Guilders' Commission 
and the Primrose Committee had placed on record, 
Ireland had really been shirking her fair share of 
Imperial taxation and was at this moment indebted 
to the English Treasury to the tune of £2,300,000 a 
year for the luxury of being governed by her bountiful 

The fraud of the Samuel profit and loss account 
was an audacious one. He strove to give plausibility 
to his invention of an Irish " Deficit " by two tricks 
more worthy of the book-keeping of a fraudulent 
company than of the financial honour of a great 
Empire. The first was to repudiate Gladstone's 
recognition in his Bill of 1886 of her " collected " 
revenue as an asset to the credit of Ireland and to 
substitute for it a " true " revenue as depleted and 
doctored by the Treasury, thus at a stroke appro- 
priating to the Treasury £2,000,000 a year which 
Gladstone made open confession to be Ireland's 
property. His second device was to charge against 
Ireland as though for her own private joy and luxury 
huge sums of Imperial expenditure — e.g., £1,300,000 
for the Royal Irish Constabulary which were incurred 
wholly for Imperial purposes as the means of main- 
taining an alien military rule. I reminded the 
Chancellor that the Gladstone Bill of 1886 made a 
contribution of £500,000 a year to the Constabulary 
charges, as a force in its essence as Imperial as the 
army and navy and that Sir E. Hamilton, the Under 
Secretary, told the Childers' Commission that two- 
thirds of the Constabulary vote was properly Imperial. 
But to eke out the Samuel-made " Deficit," a fraud 
was to follow of such a character that it almost passes 
belief how the financial conscience of a great nation 
could ever have stained itself by practising it upon 
Ireland in a measure purporting to endow her with 


her freedom. The great Purchase Act of 1903 — the 
first shining success of England in all her dealings 
with Ireland for seven centuries — could only have 
been passed by providing an " Aid Fund " or Bonus 
as an Imperial Free Gift to cover the difference 
between the price the tenant could afford to pay 
and that which the landlord could afford to accept. 
That the Bonus should be a free Imperial gift for the 
highest of Imperial achievements was the only con- 
dition on which any party in Ireland could have 
consented to pass the Act. Mr. Samuel impudently 
proposed (and again without protest from the 
Hibernian benches) to repudiate this Bonus of 
£16,000,000 to £20,000,000 as an Imperial debt 
and to transfer it to the shoulders of Ireland, together 
with the whole expense of the Irish Land Commission 
then amounting to £616,000 a year, in order to bring 
out the required Deficit " in his honest balance- 
sheet between the two nations. Finally, while the 
Gladstone Bill of 1886 fixed Ireland's nett Imperial 
contribution from her " collected " revenue at 
£1,132,000 for thirty years, the Treasury under 
the Asquith Bill, was to retain £5,000,000 of the 
cooked "true" revenue of Ireland of £11,000,000 
for the " Home Rule " year, with the certainty of an 
unlimited increase, as the British Chancellor of the 
Exchequer dictated. (Since the world-war Ireland's 
Imperial contribution has actually mounted to 
£18,000,000 per annum). 

Here was a case, however imperfectly expounded, 
which was at least worth weighing well. My single 
speech on the subject as the spokesman of half a 
million of Nationalists, was not, it might be supposed, 
an unpardonable offence. Not so in the opinion of 
Mr. Lloyd George and his Hibernian advisers. He 
leaped into the fray not to reason with his adversary 
but to butcher him, with a tomahawk for his weapon, 
and in the temper of the tomahawk's original patentees. 


For him it was the getting of a scalp, and not the 
future of a nation that was at stake. He made no 
pretence of understanding, much less of answering 
the arguments for Ireland's claim, but with the delicate 
taste which makes the joy of a country Petty Sessions 
Court, set himself to ridicule my qualifications as a 
financial expert, which truly were no deeper than 
his own ; but he overlooked the circumstance that the 
facts and figures he was deriding were those of a 
British Royal Commission and of the Committee of 
Experts called in by his own Cabinet. Any personal 
wound to myself was healed easily enough by the 
spectacle of a British Minister on a great occasion 
floundering along from one tipsy blunder to another 
as to which any Irish schoolboy of intelligence might 
have set him right. It was not so easy to pardon the 
indecency of Ireland's own representatives. They 
went wild with exultation while Mr. Lloyd George 
slashed and danced and whooped as he tore to shreds 
the financial claims which every great Irishman for 
generations had declared to be the first elements of 
justice to their country. Not even one's deep con- 
tempt could lessen the pain of listening to the re- 
sounding Hibernian chorus, which greeted the defence 
of every fraudulent device of the Financial Clauses by 
the man whom they had egged on in the days of his 
" great and good Budget," and of his Home Rule- 
blocking Insurance Bill, and between whose knees 
they were yet to yield their consent to the Partition 
of Ireland. 

One hope remained, if not of modifying in the 
smallest degree the finances of the Bill, at least of 
laying them open to reconsideration. Our amend- 
ment proposed that at least the financial relations 
between the two countries should be revised after 
an experimental period of five years. But once more 
the Home Rule Cabinet was adamant, and their 
Hibernian followers turned down their thumbs. The 


amendment must not even be discussed. The 
expedient by which this noble result was achieved 
was a singularly dirty, as well as dishonest, one. 
According to the Government time table, Clause 14 
on which alone any alteration in the general financial 
scheme would be in order was put down at the end 
of the sitting after the debates on a Report stage of 
other matters which was certain to occupy the time 
up to 10.30 o'clock, when the guillotine fell ; so of 
course it happened automatically and Clause 14 was 
added to the Bill without a word of debate. The 
design was all the more impudently revealed by the 
time-table arrangement that the two next days were 
given up to other Financial Clauses (15 and 16) which 
immediately followed, but on which the discussion 
of our amendment would have been ruled out of 
order. The discussion, even for a minute, of the 
future finances of Ireland was effectually stamped 
out. Once again the Hibernian Party saw it was good 
and roared with joy over our discomfiture. And so 
perfect was the apparatus for smothering public 
opinion, no whisper of the above transaction was 
suffered to reach, or could ever till now reach ninety 
nine out of a hundred men in Jreland, or even the 
remaining one per centum in Britain. 




(Z9ia- , z3-'i4) 

" Ulster " proved the rock on which Liberal Home 
Rule went to pieces. The first cause of the ship- 
wreck was that the Liberal " Home Rule Govern- 
ment "—-doubtless by the ill-advice of the Hibernians 
— began by ignoring the existence of " Ulster " ; the 
next was that they met the first preparations of 
" Ulster," not with the concessions which every- 
body (and nobody more generously than the Irish 
Republicans) now recognize to be the obvious wisdom 
of the case, but with inconceivably silly taunts and 
jeers ; and the worst of all was that when they came 
to realize that Ulster had got arms in her handl, their 
ridicule was given up in a panic, and Sir E. Carson's 
right to arm for rebellion against the law of the Imperial 
Parliament was abjectly conceded by the nerveless 
custodians of " Law and Order." The ignoble 
Odyssey began with sorry jokes and ended with 

Mr. Redmond's hard necessity for following the 
Hibernian lead at any price, on the plea that his com- 
pliance meant Unity, cannot altogether be accepted 
as an excuse for the astounding indiscretion of the 
boast with which he commenced his campaign for 
the Home Rule Bill : " There is no longer an Ulster 
Difficulty." He might well have been warned by 
the fate of a similar oracle of his in 1898, when he 
balmily proclaimed : " There is no longer an Irish 
Land Question," on the eve of the long and bitter 
struggle which forced a Unionist Coercion Govern- 



ment to abolish landlordism root and branch. His 
inacquaintance with the deeper realities of Irish 
feeling and opinion was one of the principal sources 
of his weakness as an Irish leader. It is quite certain 
that, if he could give rein to his own secret convictions, 
nobody understood better than he the permanent 
value to the Irish Nation of conciliating the Protestant 
minority, or would be less likely to give practical 
effect to the threat of putting down the opposition 
of Ulster " with the strong hand " into which he was 
betrayed in another incautious moment. 

It is to be remarked that during the first twelve 
months' debates on the Home Rule Bill, nobody — 
not even the most fanatical of the Ulster Party — had 
any thought of Partition in its subsequent sense. 
The first Clause " On and after the appointed day 
there shall be in Ireland an Irish Parliament consisting 
of His Majesty the King and two houses, namely, the 
Irish Senate and the Irish House of Commons " — 
affirmed once for all the integrity of Ireland, and was 
the only Clause on which Partition could have been 
suggested in Committee. Neither Sir E. Carson nor 
any member of the Ulster Party put down any amend- 
ment with that object. The sole amendment on the 
subject debated was raised by one of the only two 
anti-Home Rulers in the Liberal Party, Mr. Agar- 
Robartes, and it only proposed " the exclusion from 
the provisions of this Act of the four counties of 
Antrim, Armagh, Down and Londonderry." Sir 
E. Carson's own speech made no disguise of the fact 
that he only supported the Amendment as a means 
of wrecking the Bill. The separation of Ulster, he 
declared, in his opening sentence, was one as to which 
" I may say at the outset that, so far as I know, there 
is no difference at all as between the Irish members." 
Ulster had never asked for a separate Parliament and 
would never consent " to anything that would be in 
the nature of desertion of any of the Southern pro- 


vinces." He frankly owned the only attraction of the 
amendment for him was that " if Ulster succeeds, 
Home Rule is dead." 

One passage of the Ulster leader's speech is of 
lasting interest as disclosing the anything but irre- 
concileable temper, even then, of the Protestant 
minority, and the temper on the Hibernian side which 
convinced them that any genuine overtures of con- 
ciliation from the Nationalists were not to be looked 
for : 

" I know that the Prime Minister believes that 
when this Bill is passed and when the controversy is 
out of the way that Ulster will get a fair share of the 
Government of Ireland. . . . Where have we, even 
in the last twenty years since this Home Rule question 
has been before the country, any single instance in 
the whole conduct of the majority in Ireland of 
encouragement to believe that we can expect fair 
play at their hands ? Not one in twenty years. There 
has been an attempt, and I admit it freely and frankly, 
by some few of the Irish Members, led, I believe by 
the hon. Member for Cork (laughter). See how it is 
laughed at. The hon. Member for Cork is a Home 
Ruler. I differ from him just as much as I differ 
from any other, but let me say that movement was a 
movement of conciliation. It ended, or, at least, it 
commenced to a large extent in the Land Act that was 
passed by my right hon. Friend the Member for 
Dover (Mr. Wyndham). The hon. Member for 
Cork, seeing the benefits of that Act as they resulted 
to Ireland, has rigidly adhered to it, and to every 
word and every promise he made at that time, and 
largely because of that he is now driven outside the 
Irish party. When the hon. Gentleman and some others 
proceeded to what they called trying to reconcile Ulster 
and the Protestants from Ulster and Ireland generally, 
they made speeches which, if they had been made by the 
majority of them for the last twenty years might, I admit, 


possibly have had some effect on some of the Unionists 
in Ireland. Their idea was certainly a worthy idea, 
nobody can deny that, of bringing about reconciliation 
and better feeling, and the moment they do that they are 
denounced, and they are boycotted, and they are perse- 
cuted, and they can hardly hold an election in Ireland. 
The hon. Member for Cork " 

At this critical point the Liberal Chairman of 
Committees (Mr. Whitley) brusquely interfered to 
call Sir E. Carson to order, amidst the taunting cheers 
of the Hibernians, and no more was heard of the 
Ulster leader's reasons for believing that if the All- 
for-Ireland policy had been supported, instead of 
thwarted by the majority of the Irish Party, the objec- 
tions of Ulster might have been overcome. 

Sir E. Carson in dropping the subject on com- 
pulsion from the Chair was only able to add : " I can 
only say with great respect that I am surprised if I 
am not entitled to show why these counties in Ulster 
cannot trust the majority and give that as a reason 
why they should be excluded from the Bill." (Hansard, 
June, 1912, p. 1070). 

In my own brief speech on the amendment will 
be found at that early date, what no other section of 
the House, British or Irish, are likely to claim for 
themselves, a precise exposition of the attitude of my 
colleagues and myself towards Ulster which we never 
had reason to alter in the smallest degree and which, 
it is not too much to claim, the bulk of men of all 
parties have since got reason to deplore was not their 
own attitude all along. An extract or two may be 
forgiven : 

" There are very few compromises indeed to 
which I, for one, would not gladly assent if the effect 
was to conciliate the Protestant minority. The 
Amendment under consideration is almost the sole 
exception. This is the one compromise which to 
Irishmen is intolerable and impossible. Some of us, 


at all events, would prefer to the end of our days to 
be ruled by this Parliament or by the Grand Turk for 
that matter, rather than be assenting parties to the 
mutilation of a country which the hand of God and 
the whole course of history have made one. That 
is one of the things on which all Irish Protestants, 
as well as all Irish Catholics, think alike. That is 
I venture to say if the hon. Gentleman, the Member 
for Walton (Mr. F. E. Smith) who is not an Irishman 
himself, will give me leave to say so, one of the common 
instincts, one of the common ties of unity, one of 
the facts of our common mentality, which no human 
law can override, and which, no matter what any man 
may say, do constitute us one nation and not two 
nations. Whatever other differences we may have, 
we are, I think, all proud of being Irishmen ; Irishmen 
not merely of the North or North East, or South, or 
South West, but Irishmen all round the compass. ." 

And again — 

" The Right Hon. Member for Dublin Univer- 
sity (Sir E. Carson) in his most candid speech, has 
made it as clear as crystal that every Irishman for 
whom he speaks, as well as those we can speak for, 
thinks that any proposal to cut Ireland up into 
Protestant or Catholic concentration camps is un- 
thinkable and impossible. ... So far as the 
Nationalists are concerned, there is no possibility of 
our entertaining for one moment such a proposal as 
is contained in this Amendment. ... I repeat this 
amendment is an impossible and hateful one both to 
Protestants and Catholics. It is almost the only 
compromise I can conceive to which those who think 
as I do would object if the result were to allay the 
suspicions and win the co-operation of our Protestant 
fellow-countrymen. I daresay you would rule 
me out of order if I were on this particular 
occasion to go into the nature of the com- 
promises we believe to be practical ones ; but 
Irish Nationalists would as soon cut off their hands 


as cut off from Ireland the province which is sacred 
ground to all of us, from the earliest dawn of our 
history by thousands of our most cherished national 
traditions. It was the home of long dynasties of the 
most heroic Gaelic princes, men like Shan O'Neil, 
Hugh O'Neil and Owen Roe ; it was the home of 
those Anglo-Irish Protestant patriots of the Dun- 
gannon Convention and ot the United Irishmen's 
days, whose names are worshipped to-day in every 
Catholic cabin in the South just as ardently as that of 
any Irish Catholic of whom our history tells us. We 
cannot and will not for any consideration part with 
our historical inheritance — we cannot part with a 
single Irishman within the shores of the island. On 
the other hand, within those shores, we respectfully 
invite and welcome our Protestant fellow countrymen 
to seek and find every form of power and honour in 
their own country, short of actual ascendancy. I go 
further — no matter how my words may be mis- 
represented in Ireland — and I say I should look forward 
to an Irish Parliament with very mixed feelings if I 
did not feel sure that upon the day when our Protestant 
fellow-countrymen can see their way to join us in 
organising a great National Peace Party in Ireland, 
exempt from all the old party trammels and passions 
of the past, they will find themselves in a position not 
merely to defend themselves against persecution, but 
to defend themselves far better than this House can 
ever defend them — nay, that in future years by their 
own qualities and by the natural bias of the Irish 
character, they will find themselves amongst the most 
effective and powerful elements in the governing 
majority of the Irish Parliament and the Irish 
Ministry. ... I end as I began by saying that when- 
ever they make up their minds to put forward proposals 
intended not to kill this Bill, but to make it acceptable 
to every reasonable Unionist in Ireland, I for one will 
be with them to the death and aid them in holding 


their ground in honour and in power in the land which 
is their native land as well as it is mine." 

Not a stir was made from the Ministerial side, 
save to scoff at every reference to the seriousness of 
the Ulster problem. 

Thus proceeded the debates to the Third Reading 
on January 15, 191 3, without the offer of the smallest 
concession to the special mentality and historical 
environment of Ulster ; Mr. Redmond intervening 
on rare occasions with ceremonious speeches " faultily 
faultless, icily regular, splendidly null " ; Mr. Dillon 
and Mr. Devlin deserving honourable mention only 
for their silence ; the Hibernian Party in general 
ranged on their benches like so many automata 
mechanically wound up on the touching of a spring 
to vote, to roar out their Hallelujah choruses at the 
right moments in the speeches of their demi-gods on 
the Treasury Bench, or to supply more offensive 
music when it was a question of worrying or coughing 
down all who differed with them — a spectacle of 
intellectual feebleness and insignificance not easily 
to be forgiven to the representatives of a nation, who 
for the first time and for the last, might have been 
the masters of the situation. 

While the programme of the Downing St. 
breakfast-party was being thus hustled through the 
House of Commons " according to plan," Sir E. 
Carson and the Unionist leader, Mr. Bonar Law (now 
his sworn confederate in contingent treason) had been 
more formidably engaged in rousing Ulster to armed 
resistance, More unhappily still, the eloquence 
of the Hibernian leaders had been diverted to platform 
work in Ireland which was even more effective than 
Sir E. Carson himself in setting ablaze the passions 
of the most furibund of his Orange partisans. We 
have already seen the disastrous consequences of the 
adventure— beginning in insolence and ending in 
pusillanimity — into which they tempted Mr. 


Winston Churchill in Belfast. Those consequences 
were every day exercising a more grievous influence 
on the temper of the North. The most moderate as 
well as the most fanatical could scarcely fail to see they 
were dealing with a Government from whom they had 
neither conciliation to hope for nor firmness to dread. 

We have now to tell a story of open and advised 
illegality by the highest officers of the law for which 
history, or indeed romance furnishes no equal in a 
civilized State, unless it be the five years' war which 
the Irish Republican Army was afterwards enabled 
to carry on by copying and improving upon the 
methods taught them by Sir E. Carson's Provisional 
Government and his army equipped from Germany. 

On September 24th, 191 3, the conspiracy to resist 
Home Rule " by all means in their power, including 
force," took definite shape in the proclamation in 
Belfast of a " Central Authority for the Provisional 
Government of Ulster," under the presidency of Sir 
E. Carson. A Military Council of 84 members, 
together with the Officers Commanding, for the time 
being, the divisions and regiments of the Ulster 
Volunteer Force, was appointed. An Indemnity Fund 
of £1,000,000 was set on foot for the grim purpose 
of * assisting the widows and orphans, the wounded 
and disabled " who might suffer in the course of active 
service. What the active service was to be was not 
disguised, was indeed noisily proclaimed. It was to 
resist the law of the King and the Imperial Parlia- 
ment — naked treason, blood-boultered rebellion. 
What the means were to be was made no less clear 
by the signing, four days afterwards, of " The Solemn 
League and Covenant " by which (as it was claimed) 
250,000 men pledged their oaths to " stand by one 
another in using all means which may be found 
necessary." The means that were at once " found 
necessary " were to brigade this enormous army 
of Covenanters into divisions and regiments, to drill 


them and manoeuvre them in the public sight under 
officers in the King's pay, and to arm them to the 
teeth — first indeed with "the wooden guns " which 
excited Mr. Devlin's hilarity, but presently with 
Mauser rifles and machine-guns " made in Germany." 
These preparations for civil war were carried on and 
instigated for many months by ex-Cabinet Ministers, 
Privy Councillors and army officers in innumerable 
speeches, for any one of which the Sinn Fein rebels 
of a later day would have been hanged or shot without 

Sir E. Carson, the ex-Solicitor-General, was fore- 
most in bidding defiance to the King and his Parlia- 
ment. His recklessness makes one suspect he was 
taking a leal out of our own book, for we always 
calculated that the best means of avoiding prosecution 
was to seem to court it. Here are but a few pearls 
from the interminable string of his treasons : 

" We will shortly challenge the Government to 
interfere with us if they dare. We will do this regard- 
less of all consequences. They may tell us, if they 
like, that that is treason. We are prepared to take 
the consequences. (Blenheim, 27th July, 1912). 

" I do not care twopence whether it is treason or 
not ; it is what we are going to do." (Coleraine, 
2 1 st September, 191 2). 

" The Covenant was a challenge to the Govern- 
ment and they dare not take it up. . . . It was signed 
by soldiers in uniform and policemen in uniform and 
men in the pay of the Government, and they dare 
not touch one of them." (Belfast, May 19th, 1913). 

11 I know a great deal of that will involve statutory 
illegality, but it will also involve moral righteous- 
ness. . . . We have the repeated pledges of our great 
leader, Mr. Bonar Law, that . . . whatever steps we 
may feel compelled to take, whether they be con- 
stitutional or whether in the long run they be un- 
constitutional, we will have the whole of the Unionist 


Party under his leadership behind us. . . . The 
Government know perfectly well that they could not 
to-morrow rely on the Army to shoot down the people 
of Ulster." (Belfast, July 12th, 1913). 

" I hope we (the Provisional Government) shall 
go on sitting there from day to day until we have 
absolutely completed our arrangements for taking 
over the Government ourselves. ... It might be, 
probably it will be, an illegal procedure. Well, if 
it is, we give the challenge to the Government to 
interfere with us if they dare. . . . But the Govern- 
ment won't interfere. They have not the courage.'* 
(Belfast, July 26th, 1913). 

" I see by an announcement that his Majesty's 
Government are reported to have issued a warrant 
for my arrest. I know nothing about it and I care 
less. One thing I feel certain of is that the Govern- 
ment will never produce it, and will never execute 
it." (Portrush, 4th August, 1913). 

" I don't hesitate to tell you that you ought to 
set yourselves against the constituted authority in 
the land. . . . We will set up a Government of our 
own. ... I am told that it will be illegal. Of course 
it will. Drilling is illegal ; I was reading an Act of 
Parliament forbidding it. The Volunteers are illegal 
and the Government know they are illegal and the 
Government dare not interfere with them." (Newry, 
September 7th, 1913). 

" I see it has created something of a commotion 
that they have at length ascertained that we have this 
great General (Sir George Richardson) amongst 
us. ... I tell the Government more than that. I 
tell them we have pledges and promises from some of 
the greatest generals in the Army that when the time 
comes and if it is necessary they will come over and 
help us." (Antrim, September 26th, 19 13). |gfi 

No Law Officer of the Crown, if consulted, could 
advise otherwise than that such speeches (and they 


were repeated in hundreds before reviews of many 
thousands of drilled rebels) must have led to the 
Ulster leader's conviction for treason felony if he were 
indicted for levying war against the King and seducing 
the Army from their allegiance. Sir E. Carson 
avowed and gloried in the statutable illegality of his 
words and of his preparations for civil war. Any 
sensational punishment, when things had been allowed 
to go so far, might have only stimulated a reaction in 
his favour. On the other hand, imbecile inaction 
while a province was being openly organised for 
rebellion against the law of the King and Parliament 
was the abdication of the first duty of Government, 
and could only convince Sir E. Carson's followers 
that he was right when he boasted that the feeble 
folk in command at Dublin Castle were cowed by his 
blood-thirsty threats that " if they dare to come to 
attack us the red blood will flow." For many months 
there was no real danger of " the red blood flowing " 
if the Government had only availed themselves of 
the Perpetual Coercion Act which Sir E. Carson 
and his friends had themselves placed at their 
disposal, and which the Hibernian Party had failed 
to use their omnipotent power to repeal. When 
the Ulster Provisional Government was appointed, 
Dublin Castle had only to publish a notice in the 
Gazette proclaiming the Provisional Government and 
its army as "an illegal association," and to summon 
Sir E. Carson under the Act of Edward III. to give 
securities for his good behaviour, according to the 
procedure he had himself made so familiar against 
his political opponents, and the prosaic ignominy 
of his fate as a warrior chief would have done more 
to give an amused satisfaction to all sensible citizens 
than to excite any commotion which the local police 
could not deal with. Whenever the archives of 
Dublin Castle yield up their secrets, it will be found 
that Mr. Birrell's Resident Magistrates and Police 


Officers in the North assured him that at any date 
up to the landing of the " Fanny's " cargo of German 
arms, the dissolution of the Volunteers could have 
been effected without firing a shot, but warned him 
that it might soon be too late. They were chaffed 
for their pains and sent home with intimations that 
their warnings were unwelcome. Shouts of " Carson, 
King of the Bluffers " — the inscription on the breast 
of the effigy burned on the Falls Road — continued to 
represent the wisdom of the Hibernians and their 
happy-hearted Chief Secretary. 

The time came when even Mr. Birrell found it 
necessary to do something that seemed serious. It 
was really something so little serious as a way of 
grappling with a great crisis, that it would rather 
have been taken for one of his jokes only that it 
was a sorry joke. In the December of 191 3 he 
published a proclamation forbidding the importation 
of arms. Tardy, but excellent, if he had proceeded 
to give effect to it by vigilant preparations at the 
ports, and by seizing the arms already stored in 
dumps where his Resident Magistrates and Police 
Officers knew perfectly well to find them. As a 
matter of fact, neither then nor ever afterwards did 
the police lay hold of a single one of Sir E. Carson's 
rifles. Worse still, the Government made warlike 
faces at the Ulster rebels, and uttered threats from 
which they promptly ran away. Mr. Winston 
Churchill, as before, distinguished himself by 
announcing that the time had come " when these 
grave matters would have to be put to the test," 
and retorted from his own side if there should be 
any resistance Sir E. Carson's menace that " the 
red blood would flow." Nay, as First Lord of 
the Admiralty, he began business by ordering the 
Channel Fleet to Lamlash, within a few hours' 
steam of Belfast, and the air was full of prepara- 
tions for a military expedition from the South as 


though it were no longer possible peacefully to move 
a regiment or a policeman in Ulster without the 
leave of Sir E. Carson's Provisional Government. 

This fit of governmental hysteria spread to the 
Army. On March 20, 1914, Gen. Hubert Gough, 
commanding a Cavalry Brigade at the Curragh, was 
sent for by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir A. Paget, 
with the news that his Brigade was to be utilized 
for " active measures " in Ulster, and was timidly 
sounded as to whether he and his officers could be 
relied on to obey. The mutiny thus fatally invited 
did not fail to come off. Gough got two hours to 
consult his officers as to whether or not they would 
disobey their rudimentary duty as soldiers. The 
General, generous-hearted and hot-headed Irishman 
as he was, opted to send in his papers rather than 
march. His officers almost to a man resolved to 
follow their commander and telephoned their decision 
to the Marlborough Barracks, where the officers of 
a regiment of Lancers joined in the revolt, seventy 
out of the seventy-six officers pledging themselves 
to hand in their resignations. It was a serious 
manifestation directly provoked by irresolution at 
headquarters, and now to be crowned with triumph 
by further irresolution. General Gough has since 
made it clear that when he was summoned to 
London by the Secretary for War (Col. Seely) he 
would not have hesitated to obey orders like a 
soldier, if these orders were plainly given. He was, 
on the contrary, left under the impression that he 
was to be left free to judge for himself whether the 
expedition to the North was one he could approve 
of, and he returned to his command at the Curragh 
completely justified and glorified in the eyes of his 
brother mutineers, claiming that he had " got a 
signed guarantee that in no circumstances shall we 
be used to force Home Rule on the Ulster people." 
The effect upon the moral of the Army is accurately 


enough described by the story, if not true, assuredly 
ben trovato y told at the time of the reply of the 
Commander-in-Chief, Sir A. Paget, to the inquiry 
what his army would do if ordered to the North : 
" All would go well until we met the first of Carson's 
men somewhere north of the Boyne, when my 
fellows would go over to them to a man, and I 
should be sent as prisoner to Mount Stewart " 
(Lord Londonderry's place) " and have the time of 
my life." With a Secretary for War so apologetic, 
and a Commander-in-Chief so philosophic, there 
was no more to be said. The fit of active govern- 
mental hysterics died down. The Army was never 
ordered to the North, the Fleet was ingloriously 
ordered home from Lamlash, and Sir E. Carson 
might well boast louder than ever that the Army 
was at his beck when a campaign for the seduction 
of the Army, for which he might have been shot, 
went unpunished, and the officers who responded to 
his incitements were lionized for their indiscipline, 
in full sight of the German Emperor, who was at 
that moment making up his mind whether an 
English Army thus demoralized was worth counting 
in his impending World-war. 

The famous proclamation for disarming Ulster 
was about to receive a still more contemptuous 
commentary even than the Curragh Mutiny, which 
it followed fast. On April 24, 1914 (according to 
the official organ of the Covenanters, the Northern 
Whig), " notwithstanding the Proclamation of the 
Government and the vigilance of the Customs 
Officers a cargo of over 35,000 magazine rifles and 
2,500,000 rounds of ammunition purchased on the 
Continent was landed at Larne, Bangor, and 
Donaghadee." For days beforehand the affair was 
the talk of the province and the " many hundred 
private motor-cars " engaged in the slow work of 
discharging the cargo of the " Fanny " did not, of 


course escape the eye of the police, many of whom 
were actual lookers-on without daring to raise a 
hand. They were overawed, not by the gentlemen 
law-breakers of the private motor-cars, but by the 
fear how their zeal would be regarded by their 
superiors in Dublin Castle. Most of the hiding- 
places where this vast store of firearms were stowed 
away were also perfectly well-known to the police 
authorities, and were duly reported to headquarters, 
but not a single search for arms was ordered any- 
where in the province, nor a single rifle of the 
35,000 ever taken out of the hands of the victorious 
gun-runners. Well might Sir E. Carson, Privy 
Councillor and ex-Solicitor General, not only identify 
himself with the illegality, but publicly incite his 
men to offer a bloody resistance to any officer of the 
law who should try to disarm them. " And now, 
men," he cried to the West Belfast Regiment (June 
6, 1 9 14, two months before the outbreak of the 
World-war), " keep your arms no matter what happens. 
I rely upon every man to fight for his arms to the 
end. Let no man take them from you. I do not 
care who they be, or under what authority they 
come, I tell you, ' Stick to your arms.' " 

When such a speech following such an act 
of open war was left unchallenged, the Government 
of the King surrendered at discretion. As they and 
their Hibernian confederates had hitherto sinned by 
withholding the smallest concession from Ulster in 
the wise belief that to laugh at " The King of the 
Bluffers " and his "wooden guns " was the com- 
plete art of statesmanship, so, from the day the 
wooden guns were exchanged for Mauser rifles, 
they sinned by a cowardice which History will find 
as contemptible as their lack of foresight had been 




The first emergence in the Home Rule debates of 
Partition — or " Exclusion," as the gods called it in 
those days — as an alternative policy was made on 
January i, 191 3, when Sir E. Carson moved as an 
amendment on the Report stage that the province 
of Ulster be excluded from the operation of the Bill. 
The Hibernian Party and the more unreflecting of 
their Radical and Labour allies were still in the 
heyday of their confidence that the opposition in 
Ulster was matter for laughter rather than for 
graver treatment. They had just been spending 
the last days in Committee in boisterous merriment 
at the expense of " the bluffers " and " the wooden 
gunmen." It was about as statesmanlike a pro- 
ceeding as Mr. Winston Churchill's abortive torch- 
light procession in Belfast. When the Ulster leader 
rose to move his amendment, they were ready with 
a new outburst ot somewhat rowdyish horseplay. 
Sir E. Carson began his speech with a remarkable 
success in putting their merriment to shame. " I 
hope," he said, " we may dispense with the holiday 
hilarity with which our proceedings have been 
carried on. I have no wish to offend these 
gentlemen, but I really think they do not yet 
understand the seriousness with which Ulster 
Unionists regard these matters. If they stood in 
my place they would resent as much and a great 
deal more the kind of treatment my friends and 
myself have been receiving for the last two days 
from gentlemen who think they can turn these dis- 


cussions into a joke." Things had not yet reached 
the stage at which he could commit himself to the 
precise form the resistance of the Covenanters 
would take, or even pledge himself very definitely 
to take part in it in person. The omission gave 
point to his complaint that " no attempt had been 
made to conciliate them or to avert the greatest 
constitutional disaster that ever threatened this 
House." In other words, the time for some 
rational compromise was not even yet overpassed, 
and it was remarked that his speech contained 
scarcely a reference to the exclusion of the province 
of Ulster as his last word in the way of accommo- 
dation. But, with the cold solemnity with which 
he might pronounce a sentence of death, he left no 
doubt as to his own conviction that the Ulster 
Unionists would be right in their resistance, and 
that in that resistance " they would have the Unionists 
of Great Britain at their back." From the Unionist 
benches there came an underswell of deep assent 
more impressive than if they had got on their feet 
to yell, and the rest of the House was quelled into 
a hush in which the most thoughtless recognized 
almost with awe that a solemn thing had been 
spoken. There was no longer a mouse stirring on 
the Hibernian or Radical benches. Sir E. Carson 
in his blunt-headed way improved the impression 
by challenging the Chief Secretary from his own 
sources of information to deny the magnitude of the 
preparations that were being made for resistance. 
The blameless Birrell, like Brer Rabbit (in those 
days much quoted), " lay low and said nuffin." 
Then he tackled the Prime Minister with a 
question which again had an awful ring in the 
hushed House " whether he and his colleagues 
would go out through England and explain this 
Bill and would announce that if Ulster refused to 
accept it and claimed to remain as she was her 


resistance would be put down by force ? " The 
speaker, whose usual contempt for perorations 
equalled that of a pork-butcher for poetry, never- 
theless stumbled upon a most dramatic peroration 
on this occasion, without seeming to know it. He 
wound up with a passage from the American 
Declaration of Independence making a last appeal 
against their ill-treatment by the Home Government. 
He suddenly stopped short where the colonists 
announced their decision to take up arms, and with 
the words : " I will read no further so long as there 
is yet time to avert a similar disaster," he sat down. 
Mr. Asquith, always keenly — perhaps too keenly 
— responsive to any electric influence in his environ- 
ment, and always ready with noble words to voice 
the emotions of the House in its finer moods, began 
with a tribute of subdued homage to the gravity of 
the occasion, which must have wounded the giddy 
scoffers and jeerers of an hour before in his own 
ranks more deeply than Carson's sharpest stings had 
done. He bowed down before " the spirit of 
seriousness so admirably exhibited " by the leader 
of the Covenanters, and " neither sought to ignore 
nor to minimise the magnitude of the danger " 
about which the merriment of the statesmen of the 
Board of Erin had hardly died away. Better than 
that, he seemed to counter Sir E. Carson's challenge 
with one that sounded more boldly still. He 
demanded " whether if the Bill was submitted to 
the British electorate, and approved, Ulster would 
still resist and whether the Unionist Party would 
be still behind them ? " and intimated that he 
" would not be afraid to submit that issue to the 
British people." But what issue ? If his proposal 
was to go to the country on a Bill containing 
generous concessions to Ulster — such as afterwards 
would have been offered on bended knees — nothing 
could^have been wiser statesmanship or even safer 


tactics. But his speech contained no hint of a 
single definite satisfaction to Ulster feeling : the 
Bill was at its last stage, and unless altered now 
must remain unalterable or be lost. Mr. Asquith 
was still thinking only of a party issue, and not of 
a national settlement by consent. And his weakness 
was that, upon the unamended Bill, he knew his 
Party managers shrank from appealing to the 
British electorate, and had no intention of doing so. 
That weakness Mr. Bonar Law was not slow to 
fasten upon. He made a clever answer to Mr. 
Asquith's challenge, but one vitiated by the fact 
that it was no less a party answer. By all means, 
let the Government submit the Bill to the country : 
he could not speak for Ulster ; but so far as his own 
attitude was concerned, as leader of the Opposition, 
it would make all the difference. If it were done 
and the country approved, the Unionist Party 
" would not in any shape or form encourage the 
resistance of Ulster." The pledge was a complete 
response to the Government's ostensible offer to go 
to the country ; for it was the support of the 
Unionist Party which was the breath of life of the 
Ulster resistance, and, that support once withdrawn, 
nobody suggested tha thes threats of armed rebellion 
would any longer be persisted in anywhere outside 
the least responsible Orange taprooms. The trick 
was that he knew the Government were not going 
to amend the Bill, and that on a Bill offering no 
concessions to Ulster the Government were bound 
to be beaten, and would therefore not face the 
electorate. A poor party game of shuttlecock on 
both sides, and one in which the Government fared 
the worst, for the General Election which would 
have been expediency as well as statesmanship with 
a Bill bravely amended would have spelled sure 
defeat with the unamended one, and no more was 
heard from the Treasury Bench of Mr. Asquith's 


incautious challenge. Instead, the irruption of 
Mr. Winston Churchill, not yet weaned from the 
Belfast torchlight procession spirit as the cure for 
Irish ills, brought the debate back from one of grave 
reasonableness to the old scenes of disorder, 
recriminations and provocations. One momentous 
avowal of the Opposition leader, indeed, deserved 
the worst that could be said of it, and was destined 
to bear a bloodstained responsibility for its share in 
screwing up the courage of the German Kaiser to 
the World-War. 

" It is a fact," coolly observed Mr. Bonar Law, 
" which I do not think anyone who knows anything 
about Ireland will deny, that these people in the 
North-East of Ireland, from old prejudices, perhaps, 
more than from anything else, would prefer, I 
believe, to accept the government of a foreign 
country rather than submit to be governed by hon. 
members below the gangway." 

Mr. Churchil was justified in noticing, as the 
Kaiser, we may be sure, did not fail to notice, this 
extraordinary statement of the Unionist leader " that 
the loyalists of Ulster would rather be annexed to 
a foreign country than continue their allegiance to 
the Crown," dotting the i's by adding : " This, 
then, is the latest Tory threat, that the loyalists of 
Ulster would prefer to be annexed to Germany than 
accept the constitution under the British Crown 
which this Bill would give them." It was a 
palpable hit — so palpable that he was not permitted 
to finish another sentence on the subject in the 
roar of blind fury that overswept the Opposition 
benches. There, however, was the astounding fact, 
and it was not explained away, but aggravated, by 
Mr. Bonar Law's sorry distinguo that he " had 
quoted what he believed to be a fact, without either 
approval or disapproval." The honest Tory squires 
might bellow till they cracked their cheeks : a the 


avowal stood on everlasting record, as a test of the 
worth of Ulster's " loyalty," and of the scruples of 
Unionist politicians, to be treasured in Baron von 
Kuhlman's note-book and laid up in the young 
hearts professing no allegiance to any but Ireland, 
who were already dreaming of improving upon the 
Ulster example in the ranks of the Irish Republican 

It was the last discussion of any practical value 
before the Bill received its Third Reading early in 
19 1 3 in its unchanged, and consequently unchange- 
able, original form. Far from making any advance 
towards reconciliation with Ulster, the final debate 
made two disclosures of sinister import for the 
Irish Cause. Mr. Asquith revealed that a General 
Election there would have to be, in any event, 
before the Act could be put in operation, thereby 
cruelly putting an end to the delusion under which 
the Hibernian leaders had enabled the Government 
to pass the Parliament Act — viz., that its passing 
would dispose of the last obstacle to Home Rule. 
Also, in the course of his shillelagh practice on the 
heads of the Opposition, Mr. Winston Churchill 
dropped a hint that there would be no objection 
to " the four Orange counties " voting themselves 
out of the Bill. It was the first official intimation of the 
Home Rule Government's change of front from 
National Unity to the " exclusion " of " the four 
Orange counties " which was to become the basis 
of the Buckingham Palace Conference. Although 
Mr. Churchill still indulged in the fearful joy of 
belabouring the effigy of " Carson, King of the 
Bluffers," after the manner of the Falls Road, it was 
evident enough that the process of giving up the 
Policy of Derision for the Policy of Pusillanimity 
was already beginning to work in Ministerial minds. 

It was one of the phenomena of those days that 
the programme of Conference, Conciliation, and 


Consent, laughed out of court in the democratic 
House of Commons, found refuge and a far-sighted 
appreciation in the House of Lords. The debates 
on the Bill when it reached the Lords will be found 
full of the sober statesmanship — of the recognition 
that Home Rule in some shape there must ineluc- 
tably be, and that the core of the problem was how 
to dissipate the forebodings of the Protestant 
Minority — which all men now see to be elementary 
wisdom, but which was sadly missing amidst the 
flippancy and superficiality of the House cf 
Commons' treatment of the subject. It was not for 
nothing the languid Upper House resolved for once 
to throw off its languor and to meet an hour before 
its usual custom and prolong its crowded sittings up 
to midnight. A strong current of opinion favouring 
a settlement by friendly Conference set in from the 
start in the memorable speeches of Earl Grey, the 
Archbishop of York, the Marquis of Lansdowne, 
the Earl of Loreburn, and others. Even Lord 
Curzon, who was then supposed to be the mirror 
of all that was most supercilious and overbearing in 
the " superior person," astonished his peers with a 
speech such as might effect miracles of conciliation 
at a Round Table. The bulk of the Irish peers, 
too, were full of the new spirit. The speech of 
Lord Londonderry was the only one that defaced 
the debates with any trace of the reckless pugnacity 
ot the Orange symposia, and of the House of 
Commons. Lord Crewe, the Liberal leader of the 
House, was not empowered to answer all these very 
genuine yearnings for a Settlement by Consent with 
anything more hopeful than the demand of a sweet- 
spoken, but unshakeable, Shy lock for his pound of 
flesh ! The John Morley of old did, indeed, for a 
moment flicker up when, Lord Dunraven having 
asked why on earth the Government should not 
attempt a settlement by consent, he interjected : 


" Yes, a settlement by consent, but on the lines 
suggested by Mr. William O'Brien." But Viscount 
Morley's own speech was all but inaudible, his spirit 
had burnt almost as low as his voice. 

In Ireland, as well, the Hibernian Press, far from 
letting the country know that " the last obstacle " 
delusion was at an end, and the Partition of the 
country not obscurely hinted as the future Liberal 
substitute for National Unity, only hailed the 
astonishing turn of the tide towards Home Rule in 
the House of Lords with a shout of exultation as 
proof that the Peers were beaten to the ropes, as 
they had predicted. When Lord Dunraven in the 
course of a weighty speech at a National Conference 
of the AU-f or- Ireland League on March 3, which 
will still repay perusal by every student of history, 
proposed a resolution inviting the Government to 
take the initiative in summoning a Conference repre- 
sentative of all parties and denominations as the 
best means of realizing the growing hopes of a 
Settlement by Consent, his proposal was received 
with howls of " Factionist ! " and " No Compromise ! " 
from the Board of Erin mobs and newspapers and 
the local All-for-Irelanders for barely tolerating the 
idea were held up to execration by one vigorous 
Canon of the Church as "a pack of scamps and 
scoundrels." Professor Kettle, who combined an 
epigrammatic brilliancy with a plentiful lack of 
sense, was not to be outdone by his Hibernian 
patrons. He laughed any fears of Ulster out of 
court. At Skibbereen, he demanded that " the 
Imperial forces and the police force of the nation 
should be drawn aside and that Ireland should be 
left to fight it out with North-East Ulster," and at 
Kildare the following Sunday the " Professor of 
National Economics " prescribed without any 
appearance of a joke for such of the Orange dogs 
as might survive the riot that " they should be shot 


or hanged or sent to penal servitude." The reign 
of unreason was as yet not to be disturbed. 

None the less, when on June 10, 191 3, the Bill 
presented itself for Second Reading in its Second 
Session, our small band made a fresh effort to give 
concrete effect to the eagerness for a friendly inter- 
party consultation before it was too late which was 
possessing the best minds in all parties. It was the 
day on which the news of George Wyndham's tragic 
death had reached the House, and the passing of 
that bright spirit brought the whole House into a 
hushed accord, while I suggested that " his work in 
Ireland would live as an immortal monument," and 
might even yet suggest to the rashest of those who 
had guiltily marred that work, when it was but half 
completed, that the methods by which Wyndham had 
victoriously overcome the age-long Agrarian difficulty 
offered a no less precious precedent in the present 
crisis. Mr. Asquith and Mr. Balfour lavishly praised, 
but did not imitate, and no word of reparation was 
heard from the Hibernian benches. The Prime 
Minister's courtesy towards Ulster was as faultless as 
usual, but he evaded every approach to any definite 
concession on the Government's own part by blandly 
referring to the " suggestion stage " at which con- 
ciliatory proposals might be sympathetically enter- 
tained. There was little difficulty in showing during 
my own observations, that this was to put the car 
before the horse since, if the Government meant 
concessions seriously their first duty ought to be by 
a confidential preliminary consultation to enlist the 
assent and authority of all sides when they came to 
be laid before the House, while if the Government 
shirked the duty of taking the initiative, proposals of 
irresponsible individuals at " the suggestion stage " 
would cast the whole question back into the cauldron 
of party politics, and would be foredoomed to failure. 
I hurry on from my own arguments and appeals to 


both sides to their effect upon the influential per- 
sonages in the debate. 

The intoxication of the recent defeats of the 
Government at the Newmarket and Altrincham 
elections was in Sir E. Carson's blood and he con- 
temptuously treated the formal submission of the 
Bill for its second session as a farcical way of marking 
time until the Government should muster up courage 
enough either to come up against the resistance of 
Ulster or meet their fate at the hands of the British 
electorate. But there was one passage which proved 
that his attitude towards any overtures of the Govern- 
ment less obviously futile than the suave invitation 
for proposals on " the suggestion stage," might even 
still have been very different : 

" I will frankly admit the speech of the Hon. 
Member for Cork was the speech of a man 
who wants to bring about peace, but he knows 
perfectly well the penalties that have fallen upon 
himself because he has tried to win Ulster. . . . 
I will say this that if ever you are to bring about a 
United Ireland — if ever you are going to bring the 
Ulster portion of the community into line, you will 
never do it by any means except persuasion." 

Mr. Bonar Law, speaking later, made a significant 
observation in the same direction : " I say further that if 
it was possible that anything on the lines of the speech 
of the Member for Cork could be evolved — if he could 
succeed in persuading the rest of Ireland in favour of 
that course — // he could come to us and say ' what 
we propose is not utterly detested by one third of the 
people of Ireland, but there is a general consent in its 
favour ' — we should all rejoice and welcome any settle- 
ment that was arrived at upon such lines. " Who will 
say now that declarations like these, before Ulster 
was armed and finally estranged, were not worth 
solemn attention ? 

The attention they received from the Chief 


Secretary who wound up the debate was a stream of 
sparkling Birrellisms, which kept the Ministerialists 
in roars of laughter. Discussing the religious diffi- 
culty — the sorest of all difficulties — in Ulster, he 
revelled and rolled over in badinage of this kind : ^ 

" He had his own views of ecclesiastics of all kinds 
(laughter). He had curious experiences of them at 
the Board of Education and in Ireland (laughter). 
He had enjoyed personal contact — he would not say 
collision — with Cardinals and Archbishops and he 
commended them generally to God. (Prolonged 

Magnificent perhaps as fooling, but not the wisest 
way of soothing lacerated feelings, and not much 
improved by his following it up with the assurance 
that " he quite recognised the grave and serions state 
of things in Ulster," for Marc Antony too " quite 
recognised " that " Brutus was an honourable man." 
But even Mr. Birrell was a bit staggered by the tone 
of the Unionist leader's reception of the Conference, 
Conciliation and Consent proposal. 

" A great many compliments have been paid to 
the speech of the Hon. Member for Cork — I don't 
quarrel with them," he precipitately added to restrain 
the jeers of his Hibernian admirers, who supposed 
he had not yet ceased joking. " Let me express my 
own willingness to sit in conference with the Hon. 
Member for Cork, who is, I hope, a friend of mine and 
I can assure him that my breast entertains no sort of 
animosity against him and never has done. ... I 
quite agree with the Hon. Member that we should 
settle this by agreement and that it is our bounden 
duty if we can." 

1 Why did you not try ? " was the dry interrogatory 
of the member for Cork. "lam willing to try " was 
the best answer the readiest of the wits could devise. 
But seeing Mr. Dillon's reproachful eye turned upon 
him, the luckless Chief Secretary hastened to appease 


that statesman with a suggestion which he was not 
slow to appropriate as his own, that however " willing 
to try," a Conference there could only be on condition 
of Sir E. Carson pinning himself first to an Irish 
Parliament and an Irish Executive before being 
admitted to the Conference room. 

It was the first debate for a long time in which the 
tongues of all the men of mark in the Irish Party were 
set loose. But with what effect upon the fortunes 
of a settlement by consent may be inferred from the 
briefest summary of their speeches. Mr. Dillon 
added to his laurels as a prophet by the brilliant 
prediction that it would turn out the next year that 
" all this talk of civil war in Ulster was bluff and would 
end in nothing," as truly it did end five years later in 
worse than nothing — for the prophet and his true 
believers. By one of those rare lapses to which one 
of the most genial of Irishmen was subject, Mr. T. P» 
O'Connor's contribution to the love-feast was one 
which horrified the Unionist orator who followed him 
(Mr. Locker Lampson) into a lament over " the 
poisonous stream of provocative bitterness which had 
emanated from the Hon. Member for the Scotland 
Division," and Mr. (afterwards Lord Cave) one of the 
calmest of judicial men exclaimed : " If Mr. T. P.. 
O'Connor represents truly the ferocity of the dominant 
party in Ireland, God help the Protestant Party ! " 
Mr. Devlin was even more unfortunate in what he 
seriously conceived to be a speech of conciliation 
than in the most blood-thirsty of his platform vows 
to " stand up to Ulster." " When the Hon. Member 
for West Belfast," was the comment of one of Sir E. 
Carson's chief lieutenants, Mr. Ronald McNeill, 
" talks conciliation to us in this House, his face always 
reminds me of some wild animal that is going to bite 
somebody." And the biter was apt to get bitten, as 
when, to one of his amiable overtures, Sir E. Carson 
brutally retorted : " The observation of the Hon. 


Member is an infamous lie and he knows it." Against 
coadjutors such as these all Mr. Redmond's mag- 
nanimity and urbanity struggled in vain. He did 
not suffer his gentlemen gladly, but what was to be 
done ? His profession of love for his Protestant 
countrymen and of readiness to heap every possible 
favour upon them was perfectly genuine ; his secret 
judgment as to the best road to Irish peace had never 
wavered since the Land Conference ; but his con- 
ciliatory generalisations were too notoriously in con- 
flict with the dominant doctrines of the Board of Erin 
to have any more healing effect upon Ulster than Mr. 
Devlin's about-to-bite expression of countenance. 
He hazarded not a solitary practical suggestion to 
give effect to his swelling periods of tolerant and far- 
sighted patriotism, and a speech of glowing eloquence, 
once its resounding echoes died away, did little to 
remove the point of the sarcasm that " no man ever 
talked nonsense more majestically than John Red- 
mond." The country was allowed to drift balmily 
on to the " next year's " millennium predicted by 
the prophet Dillon. 




Sir E. Carson's amazing career from a Dublin lawyer 
" on the make " to a dictatorship of the Empire passed 
through three stages — the first when, if generous 
concessions were offered to Ulster, his opposition to 
the Home Rule Bill would have been as negligible 
as had been his opposition to George Wyndham's 
great Purchase Act of 1903 ; the second, while he 
was incubating his audacious plans for an Ulster 
Rebellion, when a resolute Government might still 
have put him down by means of his own Coercion 
Act without firing a shot ; the third when, left in 
undisputed possession of his German armaments, he 
was no longer to be resisted, without an appeal to the 
British electorate which the Liberals shrank from 

We were now at the third stage, when the Govern- 
ment and their Hibernian allies fell into a state of 
panic as unheroic as their previous mirthful gibes had 
been idiotic : when the Ulster leader spouted syste- 
matical treason without let or hindrance to what had 
now become a really formidable army of Volunteers 
panting for the signal for action, in which they counted 
upon the refusal of the King's Army to fire upon them. 
They counted above all upon the pitiable collapse of 
the King's Government, who chose this moment to 
evacuate Belfast altogether and withdraw their troops 
to a country camp at Hollywood at a respectful distance 
from the Ulster Provisional Government. Sir E. 
Carson even went the length of specifying the sort of 
action for which his preparations were made. Had 


the constabulary attempted to seize the old Town 
Hall, the headquarters of his Provisional Government : 

" Many thousands of Volunteers from the Queen's 
Island Shipyards and reinforced by other men, would 
have attempted to regain possession. The Central 
Office of the Belfast police is in the same block of 
buildings and as a high percentage of Belfast's male 
population carry revolvers, it is doubtful whether the 
police could have held either the Town Hall or their 
Office. Long before the troops could have arrived, 
the streets would have been running in blood, and by 
the time General Macready could have reached the 
city from Hollywood, to take over the duties of Military 
Governor under Martial Law, a terrible situation 
would have arisen." (Interview in Daily Telegraph, 
April 20, 1 914). 

Pray imagine the feelings with which all this was 
read by the All Highest War Lord, revolving his own 
plans for setting the streets of half Europe " running 
with blood " before the General Macreadys of England 
could arrive to trouble the good work ! 

It will always remain the heaviest reproach of a 
Liberal Ministry, which wanted neither brains nor 
high purpose, that two precious years were allowed 
to pass without one genuine effort on their part to 
conciliate or even to understand Ulster. 

Little boots it now to recall how persistently our 
own small group from the start pointed out that a 
conciliatory attitude towards Ulster was the rudi- 
mentary wisdom of the matter and, regardless of the 
scoffs and insults of the worst of the Hibernians and 
the most ignorant of their confederates on the Minis- 
terial side of the House, pressed precisely those pro- 
posals of friendly conference and large local autonomy 
which are now as I write on everybody's lips as offering 
the only hope of deliverance from a loathsome civil 

One supreme opportunity, and the last, offered 


at the end of the Session of 191 3 of turning the dead- 
lock between the two Houses into a broadminded 
settlement by consent, and it will be the wonder and 
regret of History that it was not availed of. On the 
nth September, 1913, Lord Loreburn published in 
The Times a letter appealing for a small friendly 
Conference of all Parties, unfettered by any pre- 
liminary conditions, to try whether the deadlock 
might not be terminated by a settlement by consent. 
Lord Loreburn was a life-long Liberal and enthusiast 
for Irish Home Rule. He was one of our foremost 
Counsel at the Parnell Commission, was Mr. Asquith's 
first Lord Chancellor, and enjoyed universal respect 
as a man of fine judicial temper and a winning courtesy 
to all men. " A document of the first political im- 
portance " was the description of his letter by The 
Times, which still retained its Unionist bias, but was 
already beginning to manifest that large-minded sense 
of the realities of the Irish situation which, in the 
subsequent years, was to make the old implacable 
journalistic foe of Parnell the most powerful influence 
in Britain for Irish liberty since the death of Gladstone. 
The most thoughtful of the Liberal organs, the Nation, 
the Westminster Gazette, the Daily News, the Man- 
chester Guardian and so forth gave Lord Loreburn 's 
appeal a discriminating, but all the more useful wel- 
come. The great Tory papers — the Observer, the 
Daily Telegraph, even the Morning Post — were already 
wonfpver to a settlement conditioned by reasonable 
guarantees to Ulster, and rebuked the few meaner 
Unionist and Hibernian sheets which affected to see 
in Lord Loreburn's appeal a signal of distress on the 
part of the Liberal Cabinet. The truth, as it turned 
out, was that the only obstacle to its success was the 
hesitation of his Liberal colleagues, still reassured by 
the optimism of their purblind Hibernian advisers. 
On the evening after the appearance of the letter in The 
Times I received at my home in Mallow a sheaf of 


telegrams from the Times, the Daily News, the Daily 
Telegraph, the Daily Chronicle, and Daily Express 
pressing for my views. They were concentrated in 
my message to the Times : 

" I have as yet seen a summary only of Lord 
Loreburn's letter, but it is a pronouncement which 
no Party can afford to disregard. Our All-for-Ireland 
motto ' Conference, Conciliation and Consent ' is 
sufficient intimation how enthusiastically we welcome 
Lord Loreburn's plea for friendly consultation before 
it is too late. I am absolutely convinced that an 
unfettered Conference such as he proposes will not 
separate without an agreement." 

And to the Daily News, I wired inter alia : 

" Nationalist opinion in the South notes with 
profound satisfaction the respectful sympathy with 
which the Liberal Press is treating Lord Loreburn's 
letter. . . Suspend Party warfare for three months 
and the thing is done." 

It was one of those golden moments when there 
was an " atmosphere " of unprecedented friendliness 
— at least in Britain — for the attempt to do those very 
things which all parties are at this writing only too 
eager to do, after years of immeasurable anguish and 
bloodshed. It was even announced from Balmoral 
that King George — long a genial convert to Home 
Rule; — " was using his good offices " with two guests 
so worthily typical of the two great British parties as 
Lord Lansdowne and Sir John Simon, " in the direc- 
tion of bringing the political leaders together to discuss 
Home Rule." Mr. Redmond alone was dumb. As 
at every critical juncture since 1903, he allowed Mr. 
Dillon and Mr. Devlin to make up his mind for him, 
and as on the Land Purchase Bill of 1903 Mr. Dillon 
and Sir Edward Carson were, for destructive purposes, 
now again agreed. Mr. Dillon proclaimed that " he 
would enter no Conference " unless Sir Edward 
Carson would first declare himself a Home Ruler, 


which was a characteristically rash oracle, for a few 
months afterwards he was glad to enter the Bucking- 
ham Palace Conference with Sir E. Carson without 
any such condition. He gave the cue to his leader 
and followers for the defeat of Lord Loreburn's 
proposal by raising the cry that " appeals for a Con- 
ference coming from the friends of Home Rule were 
regarded as flags of distress and would only encourage 
the Orange leaders to fresh extravagance of threats 
and violence." Mr. Devlin alluded with lofty scorn 
to " some references on the part of certain individuals 
to the question of compromise on the Home Rule 
Bill " — he who was a little later to accept the one 
irreparable " compromise " of Partition and to coerce 
his Hibernians into swallowing it — and dismissed 
" all this talk about conciliation and Conference- 
mongery " as meant to " defeat the Home Rule Bill 
and to smash up the Irish movement." He held the 
true policy was " to stand up to Ulster " and he 
" stood up to Ulster " himself by departing for a 
distant meeting in Connacht where he undertook 
if the police and military would only stand aside to 
" wipe Carson and his Covenanters off the face of the 
earth." After a week or two of which propaganda, 
the Freeman found it safe to announce that the Lore- 
burn Conference idea was an " exploded idea " and 
that " Lord Loreburn's ballon d'essai was a tangled 
mass of wreckage." 

The cruel fallacy of all this " no compromise " cry 
was that the compromise had already been made and 
by the very man who raised the cry. The only reason 
why Lord Loreburn had interfered at all was that the 
" bluff and threats of the Ulster leaders," to use Mr. 
Dillon's words, had already so far " intimidated the 
Government and the National Party " that the Prime 
Minister had pledged himself to refer the whole 
matter to the British electorate before a Home Rule 
Act was put in operation — that Mr. Winston Churchill 


had openly gone over to the Partitionists with an offer 
of " the four Orange Counties " to Sir E. Carson — 
and that the " National Party " were so successfully 
intimidated that they did not offer a word of protest 
against the one surrender or the other. 

Sir E. Carson of course declined with bitter sarcasm 
Mr. Dillon's preliminary condition, but on the main 
point of throwing cold water upon Lord Loreburn's 
peace proposal spoke altogether after Mr. Dillon's 
own heart. A closer study of his words, however, 
made it clear that his objection to the Conference was 
based on the shadowy distinction between " Local 
Government " and Home Rule, and that he was only 
manoeuvring to avoid any suspicion in the minds of 
his own braves that he was flying " a flag of distress " 
himself, when he fed their fires of indignation by 
reminding them : " Is it not strange that all this talk 
about the feelings of Ulster never occurred before to 
the Liberal Party ? When they took up this Bill and 
Mr. Asquith and Mr. Redmond were meeting to- 
gether, they framed this measure without any concern 
about us because they believed that it was all plain 
sailing." While, of course, no man could honestly 
propose a Home Rule pledge to Sir E. Carson as the 
first condition of a parley, the striking fact is to be 
noted that, in the whole of the discussions raised by 
Lord Loreburn's letter, neither from him nor from 
any speaker or newspaper in the Unionist camp was 
there yet a whisper of that Partition of Ireland as a 
condition of settlement which was to be the torch of 
discord during the eight following years. Had Mr. 
Asquith and Mr. Redmond only shown the high 
virtue not to be afraid to seem afraid, the Loreburn 
Conference must have assembled under every circum- 
stance that could favour a noble enterprise of peace. 
The Irish leader, and the British Prime Minister stood 
tongue-tied until the golden sands ran out, and the 
denouncers of "conciliation and Conference-mongery" 


had their victory for nine months more, when they 
and their leaders did very truly raise " a flag of dis- 
tress " too late to conceal their ignominy and panic. 

It was on May 12, 19 14, in moving that the Com- 
mittee stage of the Home Rule Bill, on its last 
appearance in the House of Commons should be 
formal and that " all questions should be put from the 
Chair without amendment or debate," Mr. Asquith 
gave the first public intimation that Home Rule was 
about to be given up for Partition. Under cover of 
leaving the door open for " an agreed settlement," 
the Prime Minister announced that " while we shall 
ask the House to give this Bill a Third Reading before 
we separate, we shall make ourselves responsible for 
introducing an Amending Bill in such a manner that 
the two Bills shall become law practically at the same 
time." Mr. Bonar Law promptly, with a certain 
exultation but with still more contempt, fastened upon 
the admission that the Government " which had been 
drifting for the past six months and was drifting 
still " had " now made a distinct advance and was now 
going to introduce an Amending Bill which would 
fundamentally alter the present Bill." He tauntingly 
invited the Prime Minister and Mr. Redmond 
11 between whom the real crux of the question lay " 
to take the House into their confidence as to what the 
Amending Bill was to be. Obviously the Prime 
Minister's announcement must have been concerted 
with Mr. Redmond and his Hibernians. If they 
objected, it was in their power to put their Govern- 
mental betrayers out of office in the division lobby that 
evening. No less obviously Mr. Redmond knew 
that Partition in some shape was to be the blood and 
bone of the Amending Bill. His last doubts, had he 
any, were dispelled by Mr. Lloyd George, who on 
this occasion for the first time showed his hand as the 
villain of the drama and avowed that the " Exclusion " 
of any counties that chose to follow Sir E. Carson was 


the object of the new departure. Under these cir- 
cumstances Mr. Redmond had to go through a per- 
formance perhaps the most humiliating that ever fell 
to the lot of an Irish leader. He had first to simulate 
extreme surprise and indignation at the betrayal in a 
burst of reheated passion which bore too evident 
traces of being studied by the midnight oil. He 
wrathfully pointed to the delight on the Unionist 
benches as " another lesson to the Government of 
the inevitable effect of making advances to the 
Opposition " — forgetful of the fact that the Govern- 
ment advance could never have been made without 
his own consent, and that this particular " advance " 
meant the Partition of his country. He, indeed, 
majestically reserved his freedom of action when the 
Amending Bill was under discussion, but quite spoiled 
an excellent piece of playacting by announcing amidst 
a general titter that for the present he and his Party 
intended to go into the Division lobby with his be- 
trayers. To pass the Bill at any price — even though a 
Bill repealing it was to be passed simultaneously — 
was the one plank he clung to in the wreckage. He 
had to wind up with this sorry piece of rhetoric for 
consumption in Ireland : " They had the consolation 
of knowing that the vision which had sustained them 
through darkness, suffering and oppression in the 
past was about to be realized and that in a few weeks 
the triumph of their cause would be consummated." 

"In a few weeks the triumph of their cause " 
was in matter of fact " consummated " when on May 
25, the final Third Reading of the Government of 
Ireland Bill was passed on the solemn undertaking 
of the Prime Minister that an Amending Bill decreeing 
Partition would be passed into law " at the same 
time." An occasion which a blindfolded Irish public 
was led to believe marked the crowning triumph of 
their nation marked in reality the most cruel fraud 
upon popular credulity by which Irish leaders ever 


disgraced themselves. The Prime Minister, in a few 
perfunctory sentences, renewed in the most distinct 
terms his pledge that the Amending Bill would be 
introduced while the Home Rule Bill was still before 
the House of Lords, and left no doubt what the 
Amending Bill was to be by announcing that its 
object had been " most clearly stated by my right 
Hon. friend (Mr. Lloyd George) with my complete 
assent in the course of the debate on Wednesday, the 
1 2th of this month " — namely, " exclusion " to any 
needful extent to appease Sir E. Carson. The first 
Clause of the Bill nominally passed established one 
Parliament for all Ireland. The Amending Bill to 
which the Government and the Irish Party now 
pledged themselves gave that First Clause the lie 
direct and gave up the last hope of a Parliament for 
all Ireland. In presence of this appalling surrender 
of all that made Home Rule worth fighting for, Mr. 
Redmond and his Party spoke not a word of protest. 
Indeed the Irish leader spoke not a word at all. The 
deed was too shameful to be defended. 

Only one voice was raised by a representative of 
Ireland in this supreme hour of her fate. It was 
the protest which I was commissioned to make in the 
name of my All-for-Ireland colleagues. As it was 
the only one from any quarter against the vote which 
made Partition an acknowledged article of the creed 
of " the Home Rule Government " one or two passages 
from my speech may be found of interest even at this 
day. Having declared that the Ministerial pretext for not 
disclosing the contents of the Amending Bill for fear 
of offending the susceptibilities of the House of Lords 
in whose House it was to be introduced " was not 
straight dealing either with Ireland or with England," 
and remarked that the device " somehow conveyed 
to me the impression of a last desperate throw of 
ruined gamblers," I proceeded : 

11 The game was lost for Ireland the day 


when the Hon. Member for Waterford and his 
friends consented to the Partition of Ireland. (In- 
terruptions). That fact will never be forgotten 
for them and will not easily be forgiven to 
them in spite of the cheers with which their treason 
is received on the Radical benches opposite. All that 
has happened since is only a consequence of their 
policy of bitterly opposing any genuine concession to 
Ulster at the right time, and now consenting to the 
concession of all others which will not only fail to 
conciliate Ulster, but will rouse millions of the Irish 
race against your Bill and indeed against all British 
party politicians impartially. We all know the object 
of this policy of adjournment to the House of Lords 
is to put off for a few weeks more the day of inevitable 
disillusion for the Irish people and to enable the 
Member for Waterford in the meantime to brag that 
some tremendous victory has been gained by the 
ghastly farce of this Third Reading to-night. . . . 
The Government are determined to pass this Bill — 
yes, but they are equally determined not to put it in 
force in its most vital particular. The Prime Minister 
confessed only a few minutes ago that this Bill is only 
a first instalment and that the second instalment is 
to nullify the first. . . . Any Bill that purposes to cut 
off Ulster permanently or temporarily from the body 
of Ireland is to me worse than nothingness, and I 
think you will find millions of Irish Nationalists will 
be of the same opinion. The Member for Waterford 
spoke as if the technical passage of this Bill will be a 
joyday for Ireland as a nation. Sir, it will be on the 
contrary one of the grossest frauds that ever was 
perpetrated on a too confiding Irish people. It will 
be little short of a cruel practical joke at the expense 
of their intelligence as well as of their freedom. They 
will have the cup of liberty presented to their lips, 
but only on condition that their lips must not touch 
it. . . . This Act will be born with a rope around its 


neck. It 19 not even intended to be enforced. It is 
to be repudiated by its own authors in the particular 
of all others which will wound Irish Nationalists to 
the heart and which will blot out the very name of 
Ireland as a nation. Sir, the difference between us 
and the Party who sit behind us is that we are ready 
for almost any conceivable concession to Ulster that 
will have the effect of uniting Ireland, but we will 
struggle to our last breath against a proposal which 
will divide her and divide her eternally, if once Ire- 
land's own representatives are consenting parties. . . . 
Of course we all know you have the voting power to 
pass this Bill as a sort of mechanical toy to amuse a 
people whom you very stupidly suppose to be a nation 
of children. But you know that this Bill does not 
mean business, and so long as it is clogged, as the 
Prime Minister to-night admits it is clogged, by a 
Ministerial pledge of a repealing Bill for the mutilation 
of Ireland, we regard this Bill as no longer a Home 
Rule Bill, but as a Bill for the murder of Home Rule 
such as we have understood it all our lives and we can 
have no hand, act or part in the operation." 

My colleagues and myself abstained from voting. 
To vote with the Government would have been to 
give our sanction like that of the Hibernian Party, to 
the avowed scheme for the mutilation of Ireland. 
By declining to vote we at least did something to save 
the future by placing it on record that there was one 
body of Irish representatives, however small, who 
refused to be accomplices in the infamy. We did not 
doubt that our action, temperate though it was, would 
bring a tempest of misrepresentation about our ears. 
Looking back upon the scene now, there seems an 
element of diabolical humour about what happened. 
For it was the seventy Irish representatives who had 
just sentenced their country to Partition who postured 
as the patriots and wise men, and it was the seven 
Nationalists, who made the only protest in their power 


in the name of a betrayed nation, who in the face of a 
grinning House of Commons were saluted with yells 
of " Factionists ! " and " Traitors ! " by the triumphant 
Hibernians. The grim irony did not even stop there. 
The subsidised Irish Press, with one voice, held us 
up to the execration of the country with the cry that 
we " had voted against Home Rule," and, under cover 
of that vdlainous falsehood, five or six hundred All- 
for-Ireland County Councillors and District Coun- 
cillors were, at the Local Government elections at 
that moment pending, subjected to ferocious perse- 
cution and a considerable number of them expelled 
from public life. Personally, we had the ample 
revenge of despising our calumniators, but it must 
be confessed that there was something heartbreaking 
in the thought that the people had no means of 
knowing, and indeed have never come to know of what 
an abominable untruth they were the victims, and 
lighted their bonfires for the passage of Home Rule 
without the slightest suspicion that they were all the 
time celebrating their own condonation of Partition. 

If they lighted bonfires five years later it would 
be to burn the famous " Act on the Statute Book " 
in its flames with execrations, which was indeed the 
fate it received from Mr. Lloyd George, with general 
consent, in his Act of 1921. 

The Loreburn peace proposal was wrecked and 
the first stage of Partition successfully negotiated. 
But the victors were so little at ease with their work 
that they immediately set themselves to organise a 
peace conference on their own account, making it 
is true a pompous pretence of effecting Lord Lore- 
burn's object, but in reality so devised as quite cer- 
tainly to defeat his hopes from an " unfettered con- 
ference " and serving only as a further crafty move 
in the Partition game. 

The Conference which the King was induced to 
summon at Buckingham Palace on 21st July, 1914, 


was born only to have its brief life cursed by every 
evil gift a malignant fairy god-mother could throw 
into its cradle. It came too late. The events of the 
previous twelve months — the incidents at the Curragh, 
the landing of the German armaments at Larne, the 
dazed incompetence of the nominal Government of 
the country — had filled the Covenanters with a con- 
fidence akin to insolence. The Conference was a 
jumble of irreconcileable elements. Only two of its 
nine members were Irish Nationalists ; and one of the 
two was the man whose hatred of any form of friendyl 
settlement by Conference had been an obsession 
bordering on monomania ever since 1903 ; and who 
shipwrecked Lord Loreburn's proposal by refusing to 
enter into any Conference until Sir E. Carson had first 
abjured his objection to Home Rule. The immense 
body of Conciliationist opinion in Ireland was left 
out of consultation altogether. Worst of all, the 
object of the Conference, as announced to the House 
of Commons by Mr. Asquith, was one destructive of 
the first principle of Home Rule, namely — " to con- 
sider the possibility of defining the area to be excluded 
from the operation of the Government of Ireland 
Bill." It was not even to discuss the possibility of 
substituting Partition for Home Rule, but only of 
" defining the area to be excluded." It was the first 
time the separation of Ulster from Ireland was publicly 
avowed as a practicable programme by any Party — 
even Sir E. Carson's — and now " the Home Rule 
Government " and the Hibernian Party went to 
Buckingham Palace recognising that it was a pro- 
gramme not merely possible, but already settled 
behind the backs of the Irish people, and that the only 
business to be discussed was to define the extent to 
which Ireland was to be mutilated. The only question 
in debate at Buckingham Palace, it is now certain, was 
whether it was six counties, or only four, that were to 
be torn from the body of Ireland. It was upon this 


question — one of unimaginable meanness compared 
with the principle of the Partition of an ancient nation, 
which does not seem to have been under debate at 
all — that the Buckingham Palace Conference, in Mr. 
Asquith's words, " was unable to agree," and, after 
four sittings, " brought its meetings to a conclusion." 
The Government sternly refused any opportunity 
of even discussing in the House of Commons this 
astounding transformation in the fortunes of Home 
Rule. The Hibernian Party took good care by their 
newspapers and organisers, to prevent the people of 
Ireland from understanding, unless in the most misty 
way, that their representatives had killed Home Rule 
by killing the only thing that made it worth having — 
the integrity of Ireland as a sovereign and immemorial 
nation. It was many a day before the Irish masses 
had any but the faintest conception that the morning 
Mr. Redmond and Mr. Dillon entered Buckingham 
Palace with such a programme, they committed them- 
selves to the Partition of their country with a complete- 
ness from which it was never again in their power to 




What was Sir E. Carson's share in deciding the 
German Emperor for his World-War ? is a question 
which has hitherto been ignored as an unpleasant 
topic, but which History will unquestionably insist 
upon investigating. Nobody except Mr. Dillon would 
have thought of accusing the Ulster leader and his 
Covenanters of being in consciously guilty relations 
with a German spy. Sir E. Carson had, of course, as 
little prevision of what was coming as he had when 
he rivalled Mr. Dillon in his gloomy forebodings of the 
repudiation and general bankruptcy that were to follow 
the Wyndham policy of 1903. The problem is not 
what Sir E. Carson was thinking, but what the Kaiser 
was thinking, and how far his knowledge of what was 
going on in Ulster affected his meditations whether 
Der Tag had arrived. It was an innocent thing 
enough for Sir E. Carson to accept the German 
Emperor's invitation to lunch on August 29th 1913 
(as his Orange organ in Belfast proudly announced at 
the time). We may be quite sure they did not discuss 
plans for an Ulster Rebellion to cripple the arm of 
England whenever His Majesty gave the signal. 
But it is a significant bit of evidence that Ulster was 
very much in His Majesty's thoughts at the time, and 
his notorious partisanship with his fellow Protestants 
of the North had assuredly not cooled since he used 
to invite the former Ulster leader, Col. Saunderson, 
to his board. It was before August 29th, 1913, Sir 
E. Carson had made some of his most violent speeches 
of defiance, including his announcement at Belfast 


(July 26) " I hope in September to call together the 
whole of the Ulster Council and complete our arrange- 
ments for taking over the Government ourselves upon 
the day that Home Rule is put on the Statute-Book," 
volunteering the admission that " it will probably be 
an illegal procedure : if it is we give the challenge 
to the Government to interfere with it, if they dare." 
All of which his Imperial host of a few weeks after 
might not unreasonably construe as proof that a 
widespread rebellion against the authority of the King 
and Parliament was brewing. 

Then the despatch to Ireland of Baron Von 
Kuhlman was a still more significant portent. He 
was not a poor " spy " carrying his life in his hands, 
but a German Minister of the first consequence and 
an intimate adviser of his Emperor. And Baron Von 
Kuhlman's visit, be it marked, a few months before 
the outbreak of the war, was made not to the Sinn F6in 
leaders or to the South, but to Belfast, where he was 
lionised by the military Commanders of the Ulster 
Volunteer Army and was enabled to inspect " eight 
battalions armed with Mauser rifles and accompanied 
by two Colt machine guns and a Maxim " ! Who can 
doubt what sort of report was carried back to his 
Imperial Master by Baron Von Kuhlman, who had 
seen nothing but a province teeming with armed 
rebels, a King's army honeycombed with mutiny and 
a Government paralysed with vacillation and terror ? 
Who can fail to understand the effect upon a man 
whose consuming speculation at the time must have 
been the part England would or could play if he un- 
loosed his hordes against France ? 

Again, it was little more than a month after a 
Cavalry Brigade at the Curragh had with impunity 
refused to march North, when the news came that the 
Fanny had successfully run her cargo of arms from 
Hamburg through the lines of patrolling British war- 
ships which refused to see. Is it credible that the 


purchase and transport of German arms and munitions 
sufficient to equip an army, and their loading and free 
departure from His Majesty's principal seaport can 
have escaped the vigilance of a War-lord whose thoughts 
at the moment turned above all else upon whether 
England was or Was not in a position to take part in a 
Continental war ? The questions where these arms 
came from, who purchased them (if they were really 
purchased), how the Fanny succeeded in loading her 
cargo and clearing the great port of Hamburg without 
interruption, and what became of the cargo after it 
was landed, were the first any Government worthy 
of the name ought to have cleared up by interrogating, 
if necessary under the Star Chamber provisions of 
his own Coercion Act persons like SirE. Carson, who 
openly identified themselves with the expedition. 
But no such questions were asked, and the mystery 
would to this day remain a mystery, only for the 
publication of the " story," which Sir E. Carson 
told Col. Repington " a man who had been on board 
the Fanny on its famous gun-running exploit was 
writing " (of this publication more hereafter). Full 
of enlightenment though Mr. Ronald McNeill's 
book is 1 , we will probably have to wait for the com- 
pletion of our information for some official revelation 
of the transaction from the German side like 
Lieutenant Von Spindler's account of his own gun- 
running expedition to Kerry later when it was the Sinn 
Feiners who were the consignees. 

It is notorious that the Orange masses looked to 
the sabre-rattling Protestant Kaiser as their deliverer,, 
as their ancestors had looked to King William of 
Orange. Even one of the most sober leaders of the 
Ulster Council — Right Hon. Thomas Andrews — did 
not hesitate to say, " If we were deserted by Great 
Britain, I would rather be governed by Germany 

1 Ulster's Stand for the Union. By Mr. Ronald McNeill. 
London. 1922. 


than by Patrick Ford and John Redmond and 
Company. " Perhaps the most characteristic of all 
the Ulster fighting-men, in the straightforwardness 
as well as obstinacy of the breed, was Captain Craig, 
M.P. (afterwards to be Sir James Craig, Premier 
of the Six Counties " Parliament ", and the future 
Minister and Chamberlain of the King) candidly 
blurted out : " There is a spirit spreading abroad 
which I can testify from my personal knowledge 
that Germany and the German Emperor would be 
preferred to the rule of John Redmond, Patrick 
Ford, and the Molly Maguires." Above all, what 
must have been the conclusion of the German 
Emperor when he read that Mr. Bonar Law, speaking 
for a Unionist Party composed of a majority of the 
representatives of England, had made with quite 
evident relish in the House of Commons the following 
astounding revelation of the mentality of " Ulster " ? 

"It is a fact which I do not think anyone who 
knows anything about Ireland will deny, that these 
people in the North-East of Ireland, from old preju- 
dices, perhaps, more than anything else, from the 
whole of their past history would prefer, I believe, 
to accept the Government of a foreign country rather 
than submit to be governed by the hon. gentlemen 
below the gangway." 

The Kaiser must have been the last to have any 
doubt what was " the foreign country " referred to, 
and can have had little less difficulty in making up 
his mind when weighing the probabilities of England 
standing up to the armies and fleets of Germany, 
that the House of Commons was as debauched as 
the Army, or as the Ulster emissaries who were nego- 
tiating for cargoes of German rifles and machine- 
guns from Hamburg, to be employed in rebellion 
against the law of Parliament, of which the King 
constitutes the first Estate. While the Kaiser's 
orders for the mobilisation must have been already 


in type, on July 13, 19 14, Sir E. Carson gave his 
benediction to a resolution practically announcing 
that the Ulster Rebellion would be simultaneous 
with the German declaration of war, in words 
scarcely less definite than an ultimatum : " That in 
view of the imminence of the final struggle against 
Home Rule, we call upon our leaders to take what- 
ever forward steps they consider necessary, inasmuch 
as we, like our forefathers, stand upon our guard, 
and do resolve, by the blessing of God, rather to go 
out and meet the danger than to await it." 

Once more, be it freely conceded, Sir E. Carson 
and his foolish friends did not know ; the unfor- 
tunate point is that the Kaiser did. When in the 
years to come, the favourite outcry against Ireland 
was that Sinn Fein " stabbed England in the 
back " by importing German arms and courting a 
German alliance, those who raised it failed to 
remember that, while the Emperor was coming to 
his fateful decision, the Irish Republican Army was 
not yet in existence, and Sir Roger Casement had 
not yet been heard of in Berlin, but the Ulster 
Covenanters were talking of going over to Germany, 
and looking to Germany for their arms, and openly 
telling a shivering Government that the hour for the 
Ulster Rebellion had come. When all the evidence 
sees the light, posterity — even English postenty — 
will perhaps judge more sternly those who " stabbed 
England in the back " by helping to precipitate the 
World- War in the name of loyalty, than those who, 
after the mischief was done, faced the might of 
England in clean fight and cheerfully gave up their 
lives for their ideals, when the contingent rebels 
who to the last hour before the war gave aid and 
comfort to the Kaiser were kissing King George's 
hands for Cabinet Ministerships and Premierships 
on the winning side. 




The preparations for rebellion which brought Sir E. 
Carson to be a Cabinet Minister instead of to the 
gallows inflicted two grievous injuries upon England. 
They had much to do, as we have seen, with the 
German Kaiser's determination to begin the World- 
War, and they laid down a precedent for Southern 
Rebellion to which is directly to be traced the re- 
sponsibility for the succeeding five years' wars for the 
Irish Republic. 

The official historiographer of the rebellion that 
did not come off, Mr. Ronald McNeill, M.P., tells us 
the story of the Larne gun-running expedition in the 
early part of 19 14 on the authority of a manuscript 
narrative by its commander, a brave but feather- 
brained ex-apprentice of Messrs. Harland and Wolff's 
shipyard, named Crawford 1 . It is scarcely surprising 
that the book had been published for a considerable 
time before any newspaper ventured to notice it. 
In no Irish newspaper has its publication ever been 
announced at all, and in the British press the boycott 
has been all but as complete. It is packed with 
revelations which, in sterner days, would have con- 
signed the author to the Tower and sentenced his 
book to be burned by the hands of the common hang- 
man. Mr. McNeill makes no disguise of the Ulster 
leader's shrewd suspicion that, in importing their 
armaments from Germany, four months before the 
outbreak of the World-War, they were doing something, 
at the least, not unacceptable to the Kaiser : 

1 Ulster's Stand for the Union. By Mr. Ronald MacNeill. 
London. Murray. 1922. 


" It may be doubted," he innocently observes, 
" with the knowledge that we now possess, whether 
the German Government would have been greatly 
incensed at the idea of a cargo of arms finding its way 
from Hamburg to Ireland in the spring of that year 
without the knowledge of the British Government." 

The book, in fact, makes it clear that the cargo 
could never have started from Germany without the 
connivance of the most highly organised bureaucracy 
in the world. Where the armaments actually came 
from is no better explained than by the statement 
that the seller was an honest Jew broker in Hamburg 
" B.S." Who " B.S." may be, and what were his 
relations with the port authorities, or with higher 
powers, History will doubtless show an affectionate 
solicitude to discover. The honest Hebrew offered 
Sir E. Carson's agent a choice between cheap Italian 
and Russian rifles and a supply of 20,000 new Austrian 
and German rifles with bayonets. "The last men- 
tioned of these alternatives was much the most costly, 
being double the price of the Italian and nearly treble 
that of the Russian arms ; but it had great advantages 
over the other two. The Austrian and German 
patterns were both first-rate ; the rifles were up-to- 
date clip-loaders, and what was the most important 
consideration, ammunition for them could be easily 
procurable in the United Kingdom." The costly 
Mausers and Mannlichers accordingly were the choice 
of Ulster. How this enormous weight of armaments 
(15,000 rifles and bayonets had to be brought from 
Austria) could have been assembled and packed in a 
single German port, and conveyed through the Kiel 
Canal without attracting the eye of a single German 
official during the month while the operation lasted, 
is a miracle which is only deepened by Mr. McNeill's 
ingenuous explanation. A miracle-worker, however, 
the mysterious " B.S." turned out to be : 

" Whether any suspicion had in fact been aroused 


remains unknown. Anyhow the barges were ready 
laden with a tug waiting until the tide should serve 
about midnight for making a start down the Elbe and 
through the Canal to Kiel. The modest sum of £10 
procured an order authorising the tug- and barges to 
proceed through the Canal without stopping and requiring 
other shipping to let them pass. A black flag was the 
signal of this privileged position, which suggested 
the ' Jolly Roger ' to Crawford's thoughts and gave a 
sense of insolent audacity when great liners of ten or 
fifteen thousand tons were seen making way for a tug 
boat towing a couple of lighters." 

There was nothing so daring in the expedition 
as the suggestion that the All -Highest War Lord 
whose Baron Von Kiihlman had just returned from 
Ulster, and who had but a short time previously 
entertained Sir E. Carson to luncheon, had not the 
remotest notion of the destination of the expedition 
which was for a month fitting out in the chief port of 
his Empire, and had an army of port officials so in- 
fantilely corrupt that " the modest sum of .£10 " was 
sufficient to bribe them into letting the rebel armaments 
pass unchallenged through the Kiel Canal and forcing 
" great liners of ten or fifteen thousand tons " to do 
homage to the black flag of the Belfast ex-apprentice. 
We shall all be delighted to make honest " B.S.'s " 
closer acquaintance whenever the Berlin and Hamburg 
archives yield up their secrets. 

Mr. McNeill's endeavours to invest the Crawford 
expedition with a halo of romance display too much 
candour not to bring merciless ridicule upon his hero. 
In the matter of daring, it was a mere schoolboy ad- 
venture compared with Von Spindler's gun-running 
cruise in the Aud in the following year, with a cargo 
of arms consigned to a rebel destination in a different 
part of Ireland, for Von Spindler had to pierce his 
way through a great British fleet off the Scottish coast, 
the least destrover of which could have sent him to the 


bottom at the first alarm. In the case of the Fanny , 
dealing with a Government like that of Mr. Asquith, 
danger there was none. Nothing could, indeed, be 
unkinder than the comic relief imputed by Mr. 
McNeill to the adventure from his own side. The 
leaders of the Ulster Provisional Government (with 
the one exception of Sir E. Carson) the bold Crawford 
found to be a pack of incapables and poltroons. To 
the Chief he addressed himself in desperation, to know 
if the Provisional Government meant business. The 
interview is worthy of the best comic business in the 
pantomine of old. " I shall carry out the coup if I 
lose my life in the attempt " quoth the bold Crawford. 
" Now, Sir Edward, I want to know are you willing 
to back me to the finish in this undertaking ? If 
you are not, I don't go." What could be more sen- 
sible ? Or what finer passage can you produce me 
in literature than the response of the Chief? — 

" We were alone, Sir Edward was sitting opposite 
to me. When I had finished, his face was stern and 
grim and there was a glint in his eye. He rose to his 
full height, looking me in the eye ; he advanced to 
where I was sitting and stared down at me and shook 
his clenched fist in my face, and said in a steady 
determined voice which thrilled me, and which I 
shall never forget : ' Crawford, I'll see you through 
this business, if I should have to go to prison for it.* 
I rose from my chair ; I held out my hand and said : 
' Sir Edward, that is all I want, I leave to-night, 
good-bye.' " 

Mrs. Micawber was not more sublime in her 
most valiant hour of determination never to desert 
her excellent husband, than Sir Edward in his covenant 
to do a short time in jail, if his myrmidon " should 
lose his life in the attempt." And mark the cheerful- 
ness with which he took the prospect of " having to go 
to prison for it " in the ordinary course of business, 
that being his lawyerly matter of fact way of discussing 


with the confidential Crawford the epoch-making 
catastrophe which he had led the trembling Prime 
Minister and his Hibernian advisers to believe was to 
result if a hair on his sacred head was touched. 

What exactly was the danger of anybody " losing 
his life," over which there was all this display of 
emotion, Mr. McNeill leaves us wondering. True 
Mr. Winston Churchill, by a tragic gesture, had 
ordered the Fleet to Lamlash, where it was in a position 
to patrol the Irish Sea as effectively as a London 
suburban resident might survey his back garden. 
But the Ruler of the King's Navee was not going to be 
beaten in the fun by Mr. Crawford's black flag or by 
the protestations of Sir Edward Micawber. From 
the beginning of February to the 24th of April, Mr. 
Crawford was fooling about the seas with his pirate 
craft, the Fanny, with every conceivable precaution 
to attract attention — now flying from Hamburg to 
Belfast to screw up the courage of his Provisional 
Government by threatening to run his cargo ashore, 
or throw it overboard, unless they toed the line — now 
cruising in Danish waters, in the British Channel, 
off the Tuskar — at one moment transhipping his 
armaments from one ship to a second and a third one — 
at another losing the Fanny altogether and rushing 
about from London to Holyhead and besieging tele- 
graph-offices with wires to inquire for her — and the 
Fleet paid no more heed to his peregrinations than if 
Mr. Churchill's dreadnoughts and destroyers were so 
many painted ships upon a painted ocean. Nor was 
the festive Mr. Birrell — " the Playboy of the Western 
World," as he had now come to be called, after Synge's 
hero — to be outdone as soon as the fun came within 
his own jurisdiction. " Half the motor-cars of the 
province " were collected for the discharge of the 
arms without disturbing the sleep of the Chief Secre- 
tary or his hosts. The wires of the King's Post 
Office were " earthed " by his liege subjects and we 
are told : 


' The police and coastguards were peacefully 
picketed in their various barracks — they were shut 
in and strongly guarded. No conflict took place 
anywhere between the authorities and the Volunteers, 
and the only casualty of any kind was the unfortunate 
death of one coastguardman from heart disease at 

Whether from excess of indignation or excess of 
laughter, Mr. McNeill forbears to specify. A tele- 
gram with the single word " Lion " was despatched 
to Sir E. Carson and to Lord Londonderry in London, 
and the fine old Irish soldier, Lord Roberts, is not 
spared the smirch on his memory of recording his 
cry cf " Magnificent ! " on learning the success of 
this ridiculous exploit at the expense of the King's 
Fleet and the King's honour. Doubtless nobody 
was thoughtful enough to include the Kaiser among 
the recipients of the " Lion " telegram ; but His 
Imperial Majesty had ample means of his own of 
learning the " magnificent " news of the demoralisa- 
tion of England's Fleet at a moment when he must 
have been anxiously making up his mind whether 
or not to fight her. The astounding thing is that the 
particulars of this characteristic " Ulster Stand for the 
Union " are related, not merely without any suspicion 
that the author is convicting his heroes and himself 
of stark treason for which three months later men 
were being shot, but with all a schoolboy's gusto for 
their " magnificent " adventure " at the very time 
when Seely and Churchill " (that is to say, the King's 
Secretary for War and the King's First Lord of the 
Admiralty) " were worrying lest ' evil-disposed per- 
sons ' should raid and rob the scantily stocked Govern- 
ment stores at Omagh and Enniskillen." 

Prudence might have taught even the most pur- 
blind Government that the example of defiant law- 
breaking at Larne would be imitated in the South. 
When on July 26th the Sinn Fein " White Yacht " 


landed its cargo of arms at Howth, the Government 
were found more irresolute and self-contradictory than 
ever. First, they despatched a Resident Magistrate 
(Mr. Harrell) to seize the Nationalist arms ; when the 
attempt failed and resulted only in the King's Own 
Borderers firing without orders and massacring men, 
women and children at Bachelor's Walk, Mr. Birrell 
tried to appease the Nationalists by dismissing the 
unfortunate Resident Magistrate, but only succeeded 
in sinking deeper into the contempt with which all 
men now regarded an Executive without the pluck to 
molest the cargo of the Fanny nor the consistency to 
let the cargo of the White Yacht go free. 

The cheerful imbecility of the Government was 
maintained in the face of an Ulster now alive 
with an army regimented, armed to the teeth and 
provided with every requisite, from machine-guns to 
an Ambulance Corps officered by great ladies, for their 
openly proclaimed campaign against the law of their 
King and his Parliament. Before many months the 
teachings of Sir E. Carson filled the South with a 
rival army of Irish Volunteers, drilling, arming and 
parading at vast reviews after the Northern model. 

The attitude of " The Party " to the new Irish 
Volunteer Movement was at first one of contempt. 
As soon as it grew too strong to be ignored, they 
abandoned their indifference for an attempt to gain 
control of the Volunteers by methods of tyranny 
which were eventually to prove " The Party's " own 
undoing. Discontent with a degenerate Parliamen- 
tarianism had long been fermenting, in secret among 
the young men of Ireland. Most of them in the 
South still clung to the All-for-Ireland movement, 
with its broad doctrines after Thomas Davis' heart, 
as a last means of interposing an honest barrier against 
the tide of pseudo-nationality and corruption that was 
overflowing the country. Another body of young 
idealists — principally in Dublin and its neighbour- 


hood — were gathering around Mr. Arthur Griffith 
who, so long ago as 1906, had laid the foundations of a 
Sinn Ftin movement wholly disconnected with the 
subsequent uprising for an Irish Republic. By an 
odd freak of fate, the English newspaper men who 
swarmed over to Dublin after the Easter Rising of 
19 1 6, puzzled by the various categories of " Irish 
Volunteers," " National Volunteers " and " Ulster 
Volunteers," heard for the first time of Sinn Ftin r 
the name of which was almost the only part of Mr. 
Griffith's original organisation which then survived, 
and ignorantly pounced upon it as a picturesque 
nickname for the Rebels of Easter Week. 

Mr. Griffith was a thinker and writer of high 
purpose, of a tolerant temper and a dogged disregard 
for obstacles, but he lacked the gifts of speech and the 
indefinable spell of " personality " which must be 
there in order to inflame millions of men to follow in 
the train of a new National prophet. The only 
programme he specified with precision was the 
withdrawal of the Irish members from Westminster 
after the example which Deak set in Hungary. It 
was not the Parliamentary manoeuvrings of the Hun- 
garian deputies in withdrawing from Vienna in 1861, 
it was the military overthrow of Austria at Sadowa 
that achieved the independence of Hungary. The 
same policy had been anticipated, so far as Ireland was 
concerned, in the famous " Repeal Year " and had 
defied the combined genius of O'Connell and Davis 
to make it practicable. It would have proved equally 
visionary now without the World War. The dislike 
of Parliamentarianism among thoughtful Irishmen 
was growing ever deeper, but the Parliamentarianism 
which was moving their repugnance was not the 
efficient Parliamentarianism of Parnell, which had all 
sorts of rich achievements to its credit, it was the 
Parliamentarianism which had parted with the inde- 
pendence of Parnell and sunk into a parasite of the 


English Liberal Party. The remedy might still lie 
in a reversion to the old model, rather than in throwing 
away Ireland's only available weapon of war until at 
all events some better one presented itself. Hence 
Mr. Griffith's gallant and single-minded efforts were 
of no avail, and the Sinn Fein movement proper had 
almost disappeared from public notice when the 
blunder of the English " War Correspondents " made 
its name immortal. 

It was Sir E. Carson who first discovered to Irish 
Nationalists a new weapon which enabled them to 
dispense with debased Parliamentary methods. If in 
the North against the law of England, why not in the 
South to break the Hibernian despotism under which 
every generous aspiration of the Irish soul was 
perishing ? The repercussion in the South of the 
revolt of the Privy Councillors of the North followed 
as quickly as the bullet follows the flash. How 
quickly is revealed in the Secret History of the Irish 
Volunteers from the pen of The O'Rahilly, who lost 
his life in the fighting of Easter Week. Sir E. Carson's 
Provisional Government was formed on September 
24th, 191 3. Little more than a month afterwards a 
dozen men meeting in Wynn's Hotel, Dublin, on the 
invitation of Professor Eoin MacNeill, took the first 
step to establish " the Irish Volunteers " (called after 
Grattan's Protestant patriots). So careful were the 
founders to avoid any suspicion of sectional or sec- 
tarian partisanship that " Arthur Griffith's name was 
deliberately not included, and only three of the twelve 
were then members of the Sinn Fein Party." " As 
we were all in agreement that the movement must 
be broadly National, and not confined to, or controlled 
by any particular Party," well known supporters of 
Mr. Redmond's Party, like the then Lord Mayor of 
Dublin (Aid. Sherlock) and Professor Kettle were 
among those first approached. But " refusals were 
the order of the day." Lord Mayor Sherlock bluntly 


declined to join the Committee and Professor Kettle 
pleaded " indisposition," although later both were 
glad to take quite an active part in the movement. 
It was even made clear that the new force was not 
to be organised in any hostile spirit towards Sir E. 
Carson or his Ulster Volunteers, but on the contrary 
in the hope of their being both brought to co-operate 
in some National rapprochement worthy of the old 
Protestant patriots of the North. The Nationalist 
youth of the South rather admired Sir E. Carson's 
pluck, were indebted to him for his example and 
encouraged by his impunity. In his first expedition 
to Cork to recruit for the Irish Volunteers Professor 
MacNeill even went the length of calling for three 
cheers for the Ulster leader for the lesson he had 
taught them that what he conceived to be great 
principles were worth daring and dying for. So 
sublime a doctrine of unselfish patriotism however 
was so little to the taste of the Board of Erin Hibernians, 
whose narrow sectarian intolerance still held the field, 
that a local Molly leader headed a charge to clear the 
platform by brute force and fractured the head of the 
Chairman, Mr. J. J. Walsh (who was afterwards 
member for Cork and Postmaster General under the 
Dail Eireann). 

But nothing could now quench the longing of the 
youth of Ireland for some escape from the corrupt 
atmosphere of the Hibernian tyranny to a higher and 
more generous plane. The leaders were little known, 
the Party Press met them with a remorseless boycott, 
the Parliamentary Party were still the recipients of 
the vast American and Australian funds without which 
no considerable purchase of arms was possible. All 
was of no avail against the mysterious instincts that 
were beginning to stir in the soul of the nation. Then 
came the Parliamentarians' classic resource against 
any movement of opinion that did not bear their 
imprimatur — their determination either to control it 


or to crush it. We have seen how, as under the 
incantations of some mediaeval witch her own brat 
waxed and prospered while her foster child pined and 
wasted, the Board of Erin Hibernians secretly cast 
their spells over the United Irish League until its 
Branches, its offices and its funds became their own ; 
how they organised and subsidised the disruption of 
the Land and Labour Association as soon as it refused 
to merge its existence in theirs 1 ; how the modest claim 
of the All-for-Ireland League for a bare hearing for 
the doctrines which have since become the last hope 
of the nation was beaten down with bludgeons and 
revolver-shots. The Irish Volunteers were now to be 
similarly practised upon. The Parliamentary leaders 
developed a sudden enthusiasm for the movement 
that could no longer be merely snubbed. The 
O'Rahilly tells us the Volunteers " discovered that the 
Hibernians had received secret instructions to form 
themselves into Volunteer Companies, to affiliate with 
Headquarters and secure control of the movement 
in their districts, with a view to control the coming 
Convention and to swamp the original Volunteers." 
" All the insidious influences known to the politicians* 
art were immediately brought into play inside as well 
as outside the original Committee. The primrose 
path to place, power and profit was temptingly dis- 
played to Eoin MacNeill and his associates, but it 
was in vain." 

When all else failed, Mr. Redmond was induced 
to try a coup d'etat which was the very definition of 
an odious tyranny. He fulminated a ukase, on the 
plea that the Provisional Committee " was not suffi- 
ciently representative," claiming the right to nominate 
twenty-five additional members of his own, and 
threatening if his arbitrary demand were disputed 
to start a rival Hibernian Committee to disrupt the 

1 See Captain D. D. Sheehan's Ireland since Parnell, Chapter 
XIV., for an interesting exposure of this transaction. 


movement. And inasmuch as the secret Order had 
already flooded the Volunteers with bogus Hibernian 
Companies and the collapse of " the Home Rule Bill " 
was not yet sufficiently apparent to disturb the in- 
fatuation with which the country was still pathetically 
loyal to the watchword : " Trust Asquith," it was 
conceivable that Mr. Redmond might up to that time 
have been strong enough to make good his threat. 
The Original Committee submitted, and the twenty- 
five Hibernian nominees — including three priests of 
the Gospel of Peace who were prominent in the 
Hibernian Order — were admitted to the governing 
body, not, as it was soon evident enough, with any 
serious intent to form a military organisation but to 
emasculate it or turn it to Hibernian uses. It was a 
victory of the kind for which the Parliamentarians were 
soon to pay a heavy reckoning. 

According to The O'Rahilly, who answered for 
his truthfulness with his life, the 25 Hibernian 
nominees were no sooner added than they proceeded 
to hand over supreme control to a Standing Committee 
of which they constituted themselves a majority, 
devoted their energies chiefly to keeping the Volunteers 
unarmed, and when arms were imported without their 
leave coolly ordered those who had paid for them to 
' loan " them to their own Hibernian nominees in 
Ulster. At the moment of the Coup d'etat, two ships 
laden with arms were on the seas — The White Yacht, 
chartered by the Original Committee and VAvenir 
of Antwerp, which set out with a cargo of arms pur- 
chased by Mr. Redmond. The White Yacht duly 
arrived at Howth and safely landed its rifles ; VAvenir 
for some mysterious reason abandoned any attempt 
to unload its cargo and put back to Belgium. The 
Standing Committee, now manned by the Hibernians, 
shut off all proposals to devote the American funds to 
the purchase of arms, carried on " a studied and well- 
sustained campaign to force the resignation of 


MacNeill and other members of the Original Com- 
mittee by attacks, accusations and insults which in 
the interests of Irish decency," The O'Rahilly refrains 
from detailing, and crowned their performances by 
issuing the audacious order : " Send all guns to 
Ulster " — the meaning of which was that the rifles 
imported and paid for before the Hibernian nominees 
were forced on the Committee were to be handed over 
to the Molly Lodges in Belfast at the derisory price of 
25/- apiece. 

It seems certain that it was these high handed 
and unscrupulous attempts to capture and debauch 
the Volunteer movement which finally alienated the 
young men of Ireland from the Parliamentary move- 
ment and made the Easter Week Rising of 1916 
inevitable. Mr. Redmond's double-faced and 
vacillating attitude at the outbreak of the World- 
War, when he first proposed that the Volunteers 
should take armed possession of Ireland and next that 
they should recruit for the allied front in Flanders, com- 
pleted the indignation aroused even in the worthiest 
of his own followers by the conspiracy to convert the 
Volunteers into a Party organisation of the Hibernians. 
The members of the Original Committee, who had 
never formally admitted the Parliamentary nominees 
as members, declined to summon them any further 
to their meetings, and proceeded frankly to arm and 
drill the Irish Volunteers to seize the first opportunity 
for an Insurrection. The expelled Parliamentarians 
formed a rival organisation of their own calling them- 
selves " The National Volunteers." The country 
battalions in preponderating numbers had not yet 
relinquished their faith in Parliamentary methods and 
might never have relinquished it had Mr. Redmond 
only seized the opportunity that, as will be seen here- 
after, was afforded to him of rallying Nationalists and 
Irish Unionists in a war-policy which would have 
been a Freedom of Ireland policy as well. The 


trouble was that he never clearly understood what 
was to be his own function in the Volunteer movement, 
except to disarm it of any military significance and get 
its machinery into his own hands. He was still in a 
position to inspect vast reviews ot *' Naticnal Volun- 
teers " with wooden guns and even guns that looked 
like genuine ones, but his double-meaning words left 
the fighting men cold and derision was added to all 
the other evidences of unreality when it was dis- 
covered that the arms which he had imported from 
Italy to supply his devout Hibernian Volunteers were 
ancient weapons of the Garibaldian raids upon the 
States of the Church, and that he had forgotten to 
order any ammunition for the venerable relics. All 
young and generous hearts, even in his own ranks, 
were turning from the squalid concerns of the poli- 
ticians to the mystic voices from on high which were 
already whispering in the night winds. 




When England, after more hesitation than is generally 
supposed, determined to throw in her fortunes with 
France as against Germany in August, 1914, three 
courses were open to Ireland, two of which had much 
to be said for them and the third which was wholly 
unwise. She might have held sternly aloof, in view 
of the unsettled condition in which her own affairs 
had been left, or she might have cordially joined the 
Allies in consideration of sufficient guarantees for the 
future of Home Rule, or she might tollow the course 
which unfortunately Mr. Redmond did follow, of 
doing neither the one thing nor the other with firmness. 
No apology was necessary to History, or in any 
other quarter, if Ireland took up the position that, 
having spent many almost humiliating years in peti- 
tioning for an honest peace with England, and having 
received nothing in return from a " Home Rule Gov- 
ernment ' except a miserable half-measure for three- 
fourths of the country on condition of the surrender of 
the other fourth, she would, in the spirit of "the Sacred 
Egoism of Nations" which moved every other 
party to the war, look to her own interests first of all, 
and abide events with the vigilant detachment which 
England so warmly admired and so magnificently 
rewarded in the case of Tcheko-Slovakia, Jugo-Slavia, 
Poland, The Trentino, Roumania and Greece. No 
thinking Irishman believed that England declared 
for war except under the conviction that it offered an 
opportunity which might never return of destroying 
the German trade which was beating her out of the 


market and annihilating the German Fleet which 
might soon be more than her match upon the seas. 
The touch of sentimentality over Germany's brutality 
to little Belgium came in happily enough, but did not 
impose upon those who remembered England's no 
less coarse brutality to Belgium not many years before 
when it was a question of laying hands upon her 
African empire on the Congo. As for the sudden 
transports of enthusiasm for France, it did not escape 
notice that a few days before the declaration of war, 
Sir E. Grey had promised the Kaiser to remain neutral, 
if he would invade France by any other route except 
the Belgian one, and would undertake not to bombard 
the Northern ports of France, which were within 
cannonshot of Dover. Nor was the pathetic corres- 
pondence between President Poincare and King 
George likely to be forgotten in which the President 
pleaded and pleaded in vain that the war might yet 
be averted if the Kaiser was given plainly to under- 
stand that he would have England arrayed against him. 
Whither or not it was the Ulster Rebellion or general 
debility that was to blame, England went on hesitating 
to the last minute of the last hour. All this is recalled 
to demonstrate the arrant cant of finding it a crime in 
Young Ireland not to flame up in a fever of enthusiasm 
for the war against the most formidable enemy of 

It is nevertheless the truth that, at the outbreak 
of the war, the number of passionate pro-Germans, 
even among the young men, was inconceivably small. 
There was yet a chance — indeed the assurance of 
success — for the second course of a reasoned and 
conditioned participation by Ireland on the side of 
the Allies. In the judgment of my All-for-Ireland 
colleagues and myself, this was the course which best 
consorted with the highest interests of Ireland. When 
invited by Mr. Redmond's most influential supporter 
in the South — Mr. George Crosbie, owner of the Cork 


Examiner — to define the lines on which united action 
by the nation in this sense could be secured, I drafted 
a Memorandum of which the chief articles were 
these : 

i. That Mr. Redmond should take the initiative 
in inviting a Conference with representative Irish 
Unionists, some of the most influential of whom I was 
in a position to guarantee would act on his invitation. 

2. I was willing either to attend such a Con- 
ference with him, or to abstain, as he might judge 
most useful. 

3 . Their abhorrence of Partition and the prospect 
of a united Irish contribution to the Army would be a 
sufficient inducement to obtain the concurrence of the 
overwhelming mass of the Irish Unionists in a broader 
Home Rule agreement (with due safeguards for 
minorities) to be then and there adopted by the Govern- 
ment as the price of Ireland's co-operation in the war. 

4. Her contribution to be limited (according to 
Mr. Asquith's own estimate in Dublin) to an Irish 
Army Corps with reserves (say 60,000 men). 

5. That force to be raised in county battalions 
(after due ratification of the Home Rule Settlement) 
by a joint recruiting campaign in which the Nationalist 
and Unionist leaders would speak from a common 

The scheme, it will be observed, made careful 
provision for the sensibilities of the Parliamentary 
majority and offered them, as it turned out, their 
last chance of recovering the leadership of the nation. 
The concurrence of the Unionists of three provinces 
and of the greater portion of the fourth was assured. 
That timid and slow-moving body, secretly all along in 
sympathy with the All-for-Ireland programme as they 
have since avowed, but intimidated from openly 
identifying themselves with it, would have joyfully 
declared for a Home Rule settlement that would at 
one and the same time deliver them from the terror 


of Partition and satisfy their loyal zeal for the war. 
Such a combination in such an hour of fate could have 
dictated their own equitable terms to British Govern- 
ments and Parties, and not least to Sir Edward Carson 
who was beginning to be alarmed by the sense of his 
own responsibility for precipitating the war. 

On the Nationalist side, a firm and united policy 
might still have carried all before it. The dissensions 
between the Original Committee of the Irish Volun- 
teers and the imported nominees of Mr. Redmond had 
not yet come to a head. They actually endorsed Mr. 
Redmond's pronouncement which the House of Com- 
mons hailed with transports as a war-speech. A 
meeting of all parties which my colleague Mr. Maurice 
Healy and myself summoned together in the Cork 
City Hall pronounced for the Allies without a 
dissentient voice. The ardent body of a few score 
young men who were all that Sinn Fe"in was at that 
time able to muster under its flag in Cork were present, 
and bitter as was the trial for them and for our no less 
fiery All-for-Ireland youth as well of hearing trusted 
Nationalist leaders exhort them to take the side of 
England in a quarrel however otherwise after their 
own hearts, they listened in respectful silence and 
were willing to concede that the unpalatable advice 
came at all events from men with whom the interests 
of Ireland were as sovereign a consideration as with 
themselves. It took the strong arm of England to 
restrain their fathers from rushing to the aid of France 
in the German Invasion of the Annie Terrible. To 
take up arms in defence of the head of the Celtic 
nations now would be the most joyous of duties could 
it only be squared with their first duty to Ireland. 
The contribution we stipulated for would have de- 
manded a far lesser sacrifice of Irish blood than was 
afterwards squandered on British battlefields, bringing 
no thanks — bringing, indeed, bitter calumny on the 
race — at the hands of England. The Irish Army 



Corps, drawn from the best chivalry of a united nation, 
would have covered the Irish name with a glory second 
to that of no fighting race on all the battle front ; their 
achievements would have earned the undying gratitude 
of democratic Britain ; even at the worst — if Ireland's 
reward was still the old one of ingratitude and bad 
faith — they would have come home a disciplined and 
unconquerable army, fortified with the admiration and 
goodwill of all the honest world, in enforcing, by 
whatever means they might, the demand for the 
liberty the Allies were showering upon the most obscure 
of the small nationalities that had espoused their cause. 

Once more, the right word had only to be spoken, 
and the nation would have followed. Once more it 
was the wrong word that was spoken and the wrong 
turn that was taken. Our proposals were forwarded 
to Mr. Redmond with the strong endorsement of his 
most powerful supporters in the South. His only 
answer was a pompous intimation, through his Secre- 
tary, that their communication would receive due 
attention. The proposals were, in matter of fact, 
never heard of more. Had Mr. Redmond any coherent 
plans of his own, his discourtesy would have been of 
less account. He had none. The war-speech in the 
House of Commons which made such a stir at the time 
was ludicrously misinterpreted in two opposite senses. 
The House of Commons, always unfathomably astray 
in Irish affairs, hailed it with raptures as an Irish 
Declaration of War against Germany, the Provisional 
Committee of the Irish Volunteers as a promise to 
take charge of Ireland on condition that the British 
Garrison should be withdrawn. The speech admitted 
of both meanings because definite meaning it had none. 
Here was the essential declaration revised by Mr. 
Redmond himself: 1 

" I say to the Government that they may to- 

1 Ireland and the War. Extracts from speeches of J. E. 
Redmond, m.p. Dublin. 1915. 


morrow withdraw every one of their troops from 
Ireland. I say that the coasts of Ireland will be de- 
fended from foreign invasion by her armed sons, and 
for this purpose armed Nationalist Catholics in the 
South will be only too glad to join arms with the 
armed Protestant Ulstermen in the North. . . . We 
offer to the Government of the day that they may 
take their troops away and that, if it is allowed to us, 
in comradeship with our brethren in the North, we 
will ourselves defend the coasts of our country." 

The speech was probably unpremeditated, under 
the temptation to say something amiable in the chaleur 
communicative of the Declaration of War, and was 
assuredly not intended as a snare for England. The 
misfortune was that, in an hour for plainness of speech, 
it contained no definite policy at all. Probably 
nobody was more amazed than Mr. Redmond by the 
extravagant enthusiasm of his English listeners. He 
did not, in matter of fact, promise a single Irish recruit 
to the British Army, but only to " defend the coasts of 
Ireland " if the British Army abandoned the possession 
of the country to his Volunteers and Sir E. Carson's. 
" Defending the coasts fo Ireland " was the favourite 
anti-recruiting locution at the moment. " Defending 
the coasts of Ireland " against whom ? Not against 
the invasion of a German Fleet, from which the 
British Fleet alone could defend them. Mr. Redmond 
did not follow out the meaning of his words, but they 
were taken by the Irish Volunteers to mean the evacua- 
tion of the country by the British Army, and the taking 
of their places by the whole armed Nationalist man- 
hood of the country, with no other use that could be 
conceived for their rifles except to try conclusions with 
the Carson Volunteers, should they prove recalcitrant. 
In his speech at a great Volunteer Review at Mary- 
borough a fortnight later (August 16, 19 14) there will 
not be found a word of exhortation to despatch a 
single Irish soldier on foreign service, but, on the 


contrary, a renewal of the cry of " the defence of the 
shores of Ireland " as the one business of his Volun- 
teers and a confident assurance that he had got a 
promise from the Prime Minister " to arm, equip and 
drill a large number of Irish Volunteers " for that 
explicit purpose, adding that the remainder of the 
Volunteers would be armed " with the rifles which 
my colleagues and I supply and the rifles which are 
being supplied from various other quarters." 

He furthermore endeavoured to reassure the 
country by spreading the mischievous delusion that 
the safety of Home Rule was now beyond all peril 
or mischance. In the House of Commons on Sep- 
tember 1 6, he referred with indignation to the un- 
generous hint of the Leader of the Opposition that his 
war-speech of August 3, " was an offer of conditional 
loyalty." " It was nothing of the kind," he exclaimed 
and proceeded to show " the absurdity of his making 
it a condition that the Home Rule Bill should go on 
the Statute Book, because ali through we had the 
certainty it was going on the Statute Book." He 
propped up this fallacy with a painful lack of candou r 

" I should like to say this, if the Prime Minister 
will allow me — that all through these negotiations, 
conversations and so on I have had with him — all 
through, on every occasion that I ever had any dealings 
with him about this matter, he has assured me that 
it was the intention of the Government to put this 
Bill on the Statute Book this session. From that he 
never wavered, and it would have been an utter 
absurdity for me to have made the putting of the 
Bill on the Statute Book under these circumstances 
a condition with reference to my offer of the Irish 

The fallacy, of course, was that the Government 
had indeed promised to " put the Bill on the Statute 
Book," but only on the condition, agreed to by Mr. 
Redmond and his colleagues, that it was to be accom- 


panied by an Amending Bill to be " put on the Statute 
Book " simultaneously, severing six counties from 
Ireland and over a million of her population and 
placing them under the sway of Sir E. Carson. The 
Irish leader conceals the fact that this was the upshot 
of all his " negotiations and conversations and dealings 
with the Prime Minister about this matter," and asks 
his countrymen to believe that the farce of " putting 
on the Statute Book " this barren and abortive Bill 
was so complete a triumph for Home Rule that any 
further bargaining or conditioning on the part of the 
representatives of Ireland would be " an absurdity." 

The two objects of our All-for-Ireland proposals — 
the achievement of a great National Settlement under 
pressure of the war emergency, and a real, although 
limited, Irish contribution to the armies of the Allies 
as the price of it — were thus completely frustrated and 
the country left leaderless and bewildered even as to 
what their titular leader intended them to do. Matters 
changed not for the better but for the worse as Mr. 
Redmond felt himself impelled to live up to the 
unexpected fame of his absurdly misunderstood war- 
speech of August 3. But it was not until September 
21, in a speech at Woodenbridge, he for the first time 
made a clear enunciation of a " twofold duty " of 
Ireland for service abroad as well as at home : 

" The duty of the manhood of Ireland is twofold. 
Its duty is, at all costs, to defend the shores of Ireland 
against foreign invasion. It is a duty more than that 
of taking care that Irish valour proves itself on the 
field of war as it has always proved itself in the past. . . 
It would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a 
reproach to her manhood if young Ireland confined 
their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores 
of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and shrank from 
the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry 
and courage which has distinguished your race all 
through its history." 


The Original Volunteers, who had understood 
his war-speech as a demand for the evacuation of the 
country by the British Army and its surrender to the 
custody of an armed Ireland, were thunderstruck by 
the proclamation at Woodenb ridge of the " twofold 
duty " which they construed to mean recruiting in 
England's service, without any stipulation for the 
future of the Irish Cause, and they straightaway took 
steps to separate themselves from such a programme. 
They shook off the tyrannous hold the Parliamentarians 
had established upon an organisation they did not 
believe in, by the simple method of no longer inviting 
Mr. Redmond's nominees to their councils. Numeri- 
cally their own ranks were still scanty, and for a time 
the Parliamentarians still enjoyed an apparent pre- 
ponderance of men as well as a monopoly of funds in 
their rival organisation which they called the "National 
Volunteers." Mr. Redmond was so deceived by his 
usual misjudgment of Irish feeling, as to take the line, 
very unusual with him, of directing the coarsest abuse 
against the young men who had defeated his 
treacherous attempt to lay hold of their organisation : 

" These men are not and never were Home Rulers. 
They may be or they may think they are revolutionists, 
or separatists, or international socialists, or they may 
be common or garden cranks, but you and I know 
they are not and never were Home Rulers. . . . 
When this terrible war is over, then I say the puny 
cavillers and cranks of to-day will again scamper away 
to their burrows and they will be forgotten in the 
universal rejoicing of a nation emancipated in spite 
of them." (Tuam, December 16). 

The " twofold duty " was preached with a two- 
fold voice during the winter, the recruiting exhortations 
being mostly reserved for elderly citizens in-doors, 
while the battalions of armed Volunteers outside were 
regaled with the glories of home service. But it was 
not long before he came to recognise that the discontent 


in his own ranks was deepening and widening. The 
sense of incompetence and shiftiness at headquarters 
was only confirmed for thinking men by his repeated 
assurances that " England has granted the autonomy 
for which we have been asking for a hundred years " 
(Kilkenny, October 19), and that the only thing 
wanting to their triumph was that " it would not be 
possible to summon our new Parliament while this 
war is raging " — assurances which in the mouth of the 
leader who knew that with his own consent the only 
" autonomy " granted by England was the destruction 
of Ireland as a national unit, and that, war or no war, 
a Parliament for all Ireland would never be assembled 
under the Statute of which he boasted, were false- 
hoods in substance and in fact. The growing con- 
viction that the Irish leaders had been jockeyed and 
the country betrayed deprived the reviews of the 
" National " Volunteers, which were still large and 
showy, of all real meaning, and the recruiting for 
General Parsons' Division (whose misnomer, " the 
Irish Brigade " was one of the bizarre humours of its 
fate) gradually fell away, outside the Belfast neighbour- 
hood where the Board of Erin Hibernians had still 
power enough to sustain Mr. Devlin in his perfectly 
genuine endeavour to beat up recruits. 

It became the fashion to father the failure of 
recruiting for " the Irish Brigade " upon the arrogance 
and anti-Irish bias ot Kitchener's War Office. But 
it was not the Hibernian leaders who should have 
been the readiest to complain of arrogance and 
ignorance at the War Office. The War Office ap- 
pointed as the heads of the 10th and 16th Divisions 
Irish generals of sympathy and distinction, Gen. 
Parsons (and succeeding him Gen. Hickie) and Sir 
Bryan Mahon ; they invited Mr. Devlin to review, 
both at Fermoy and at Aldershot, General Parsons' 
Division, to which he had unquestionably contributed 
a substantial contingent from Belfast, and made no 


objection while the Hibernian soldiers on parade 
received their leader with cheers and shouts of " Up, 
the Mollies 1 " although they ran the danger of much 
more numerous soldiers from the South responding 
with counter-cries not to the liking of " The Mollies." 
War Office rifles were even furnished to a body of 
Mr. Redmond's " National " Volunteers in Cork, 
who were for some time entrusted with the guardian- 
ship of the bridges in their gay uniforms (for the 
wearing of which, by the way, young men were a 
few years afterwards sentenced to terms of penal 
servitude). The failure ot " The Irish Brigade " 
was due, not to the War Office, nor, as I am still 
persuaded, to the people, but to the vacillations and 
halt-heartedness of their leaders. The thousands of 
gallant Irishmen who went to the front and died at 
the front, in the faith that they were dying for 
Ireland, were allowed to make their sacrifice in vain ; 
the five hundred thousand men of Irish blood who 
fought in the armies of America, Canada, and 
Australia, as well as of Britain, were lost in scattered 
groups, whose valour brought small reward to the 
land of their fathers ; even the best of the 
" National " Volunteers began to waste away back 
into the ranks of the original Irish Volunteers, sick 
of the politicians' tricks by which the country was 
being cajoled. It was all over with any war policy 
that could have brought " constitutional " redress to 

On the other hand, Sir E. Carson, on the brink 
of destruction in the eyes of England as one of the 
chief authors of the war, extricated himself with 
consummate tact from his dilemma, While the 
Hibernian leaders were spurning the offer of united 
action with their countrymen and incapable of 
initiating any coherent action of their own, Sir E. 
Carson drafted his contingent Ulster rebels of a few 
months before into an autonomous Ulster Division, 


and by their hereditary Orange war-cries as they 
crossed the Somme on their famous 1st of July and 
by the rest of their distinctive and well-advertised 
exploits more truly won the heart of England in 
their incomparably smaller numbers than the half-a- 
million of Nationalists of Irish breed whose blood 
watered the battlefields of Flanders and Galllpoli to 
no avail. 





As I was entering the House of Commons on Easter 
Monday afternoon, the door keeper informed me that 
Dublin was in rebellion and that the Castle had been 
attacked. Men with eyes to see had long realised 
that an explosion was coming. The young generation 
in Ireland was chafing in sullen silence against the 
inefficiency and degeneracy or the Parliamentary 
movement ; Carson's preparations for rebellion had 
only to be imitated to supply the means for a revolt, 
and England's war difficulties suggested the irresistible 
temptation. Among the younger men of our own 
movement there had been springing up a hopeless 
feeling that conciliatory methods, however honest and 
indeed by reason of their honesty, could be of no avail 
against the corrupt tyranny of the Board of Erin and 
the cajolery, if not perfidy, of English politicians. 
They were already beginning, like the rest, to get their 
guns and join in the route marches of the Original 
Volunteers. But so little was I prepared for the 
thunderbolt that so suddenly rent the sky, that I had 
been spending the short recess peacefully on the sands 
at Brighton and returned to London to find that the 
venue of rebellion had changed from Carson's Belfast 
to the Irish capital and had within a few hours struck 
with paralysis the trembling officials of England and 
their Hibernian advisers. 

That the cataclysm should have come with no 
less surprise upon the responsible rulers of the country- 
with their innumerable sources of information, is more 


astonishing, but the Report and blue-book of evidence 
taken before Lord Hardinge's Royal Commission 
relating to the outbreak leaves no room for doubt 
that this was so. The evidence demonstrates that the 
government of the country was for all practical pur- 
poses in the hands of Mr. Birrell and Mr. Dillon, and 
they could think of no more masterly way of meeting 
what was coming than in the words of the Prime 
Minister to " wait and see." The Lord Lieutenant 
(Lord Wimborne), indeed, had some not very original 
strategic plans for making a swoop on the leaders, 
but, when he was overborne by the cheery Mr. 
Birrell and his Friar Joseph, he exhibited so little 
foresight of the immediacy of the crisis, that he allowed 
his Commander-in-Chief to depart for a holiday in 
England, and saw no objection to the officers of the 
Dublin Castle garrison going off to the Fairy 
House Races on the day of the Rising, and went 
himself and his Under Secretary within an ace of 
being made inglorious prisoners when the rebels 
knocked at the gate of Dublin Castle which like the 
Viceregal Lodge was at the moment defended only 
by " a corporal's guard." His Chief Secretary had 
not been in Ireland since February and then only for 
ten days. 

There is one part of the official evidence which 
would seem to throw upon unfortunate Mr. Redmond 
some of the blame for the inaction at Dublin Castle. 
He, in conformity with a now inveterate habit, had 
withdrawn himself from the region of responsibilities 
and delegated his authority to Mr. Dillon who, it 
would seem in his turn, sheltered himself from re- 
sponsibility by pointing to Mr. Redmond's failure 
to identify himself with his own strong counsels 
against the rebels. The following extract from a 
letter under date 18th December, 191 5, written by the 
Under Secretary to the Chief Secretary is published 
in the Report of Lord Hardinge and his colleagues : 


" What is Redmond up to with his comparisons 
between Ireland and Great Britain in the matter of 
police and crime ? He knows, or should know, 
after what Dillon wrote to him over a month ago in the 
enclosed * Confidential letter ' and repeated verbally on 
the yd instant that the present situation in Ireland is 
most serious and menacing. Redmond himself sent 
me the other ' private ' enclosure on the 9th." 

It is to be observed that of this letter of Sir Mathew 
Nathan which was published for the first time in Lord 
Hardinge's Report dated June 26th, there is no mention 
in the printed evidence of Sir Mathew himself given 
on May 1 8th nor of Mr.BirrellgivenonMay 19th. The 
remarkable letters referred to from Mr. Dillon to Mr. 
Redmond, and from Mr. Redmond to Sir M. Nathan 
must have been in the possession of the Chief Secretary 
or of the Under Secretary and must have been pro- 
duced and read during their examination. All re- 
ference to them, however, is suppressed in the official 
Minutes of their evidence, and the facts would never 
have reached the light had not the Commissioners 
themselves decided to divulge them in their Report. 
Mr. Dillon, who might presumably have been con- 
cerned to explain his part in these transactions, did 
not present himself as a witness, and the Commissioners 
who attached much importance to his action in their 
Report, do not seem to have pressed him to give 
evidence before them. Mr. Birrell's own account of 
the difference between the two Irish leaders was 
this : 

" Mr. Redmond always took the view that the 
Sinn Feiners were negligible and he was good enough 
to say so in the House of Commons on a particular 
occasion. . . . Mr. Dillon was very strongly the other 
way, not in the sense of taking action, but very strongly 
of opinion that the Sinn Feiners, particularly the Sinn 
Fein movement and the insurrectionary movement in 
Dublin was a danger, and on that point there was a 


very friendly but strong difference of opinion between 
the two. 

" Was Mr. Dillon equally in favour of non- 
intervention ? — Yes. 

" He thought it dangerous and yet he was against 
intervention ? — He was against it in the absence of proof 
of hostile association with the enemy. If there had been 
evidence of hostile association with the enemy which you 
could prove, particularly against an individual, he 
naturally would have been in favour of a prosecution ." 

The Irish people will have to await future re- 
searches in the archives of Dublin Castle to discover 
the text of the letters which would have explained the 
nature of the " very friendly but strong difference of 
opinion " between Mr. Dillon and Mr. Redmond in 
their advice to the Castle authorities in this crisis. 
For the present we must be content to know that these 
letters were for some unexplained reason deleted from 
the Minutes of Evidence before the Hardinge Com- 
mission, and that in the main the " difference between 
the two " was that Mr. Redmond wrapped himself 
up in an optimistic haze, while Mr. Dillon only awaited 
in order to advise immediate action against the rebels 
that " proof of hostile association with the enemy " 
which, it is elsewhere mentioned, the landing of Sir 
Roger Casement in Kerry supplied. And that it was 
Mr. Dillon and his coadjutor the " National 
President " of the Board of Erin who really mattered, 
is obvious enough from this illuminating passage in 
the evidence of Sir Mathew Nathan : 

" Sir MacKenzie Chalmers — The three people 
upon whom you relied for information — ? — Not for 

" I mean about the feeling of the country — the 
three people upon whom you relied were Mr. Devlin, 
Mr. Dillon and Mr. Redmond ? Yes ; / saw Mr. 
Redmond comparatively few times. 

" Twice, I think, in your Memorandum you used 


the words ' the Irish Parliamentary Party.' Practically 
that meant those three gentlemen ? — Yes." 1 

There is some pathos in the protestation with 
which the Viceroy began his evidence that in the 
Dublin Castle scheme of government, the King's 
Viceroy is not really of any account, but the rest of 
his narrative of the Rising would read like so much 
pure comic opera, only that it was so heavily splashed 
with blood. The Admiral at Queenstown in the 
course of a chat with the local General on April 16th, 
mentioned casually that the Casement cargo of arms 
had left Germany on the 12th, accompanied by two 
German submarines, and that a Rising was timed for 
Easter Eve. It was not until April 18th the chat 
reached the Viceroy, who wrote off to the Chief Secre- 
tary (in London), " a little colloquially, I am afraid," 
rejoicing in " the stroke of luck " by which " our 
friend " (Sir Roger Casement) was captured on 
landing, hoping " there would be no nonsense about 
clemency in making an example of him," developing 
a grandiose plan of his own for a swoop on the Dublin 
suspects, and imploring Mr. Birrell (Mr. Birrell of all 

1 Another passage from Sir Mathew's evidence is worth 
reproducing : 

" Whom could you consult when the Chief Secretary was 
away ? — The Irish Members of Parliament are frequently con- 
ferred with. ... I must state one thing that fell to Mr. Birrell 
to do when he was over here (in Westminster) was to see the 
Irish Members of Parliament, who were constantly going to him 
on every conceivable subject. 

" Is that Mr. Redmond's Party or Mr. O'Brien's ?— No. 
I am talking entirely of the Party under Mr. Redmond." 

For the high affairs of State, the three above enumerated 
were " The Irish Parliamentary Party," but the rest of the Party 
had their compensations by (in Mr. T. P. O'Connor's indignant 
phrase) " making a commonage " of the Chief Secretary's room 
in the House of Commons, oblivious of their public vow not to 
seek Government patronage, which it is certain covered three- 
fourths of the communications on *' every conceivable subject " 
with which they were " constantly " entertaining Mr. Birrell. 


men !) " if you agree, do write and ginger Nathan." 
Nathan remained so ungingered that, on the morning 
of the Rising, " I urged that the Castle guard be 
strengthened, but the Under Secretary demurred," 
and Lord Wimborne himself, having in vain offered 
" to take full responsibility for any possible illegality " 
in " making a bag " of six or seven hundred Dublin 
Volunteers the previous night 1 was at 10-30 a.m. on 
Easter Monday morning entirely reassured, " especially 
in view of the obvious disorganisation of the insurgents' 
plans that the Rising timed for this day would not take 
place." Nathan went off to the Castle to get the 
Chief Secretary on the wires, and the Lord Lieutenant 
who remained at the Viceregal Lodge " had completed 
a letter to the Chief Secretary and was in the act of 
writing to the Prime Minister deploring the delay and 
hoping that no mischief would occur in the meantime 
when at 12-30 a telephone message from the police 
announced that the Castle had been attacked, the 
Post Office seized, Stephen's Green occupied, the 
Ashtown Railway Bridge destroyed, and that the 
insurgents were marching on the Viceregal Lodge." 
So " obvious " was " the disorganisation of the in- 
surgents' plans " that within twenty minutes after the 
stroke of noon their columns had taken possession 
of Dublin at six different strategic centres, and poor 
Lord Wimborne spent " the same afternoon " writing 
another despatch to the Chief Secretary announcing 
" the worst had happened just when we thought it 
averted. The Post Office is seized — Nathan still 
besieged in the Castle, but I hope he will be soon out. 
Almost all wires cut. Bridges blown up. Every- 
body away on holiday." One expects the message 
to wind up with a comic war-song from Offenbach's 

1 " It was found impossible to have done it for that night," 
he adds, with feeling. It is a cunons fact that none of the official 
extracts quoted in this Chapter were ever made public in the Irish 


Grand Duchess. For a last excruciating touch of 
humour hear this : 

" What troops had you in the Viceregal Lodge on 
Easter Monday ? — Ten men. 

" A corporal's guard ? — A corporal's guard. 

" And in the Castle ? — I do not know ; I suppose 
a corporal's guard — not more. 

" When they shot the policeman there was nothing 
to prevent them going on, of course ? — They could 
walk right in, of course." 

General Bourn could not have made a more masterly 
disposition of his forces. 

The Parliamentary Party failed as did we all to 
foresee the Rising of Easter Week, but they failed more 
inexcusably to foresee its consequences. The first 
few days' news from Dublin reduced them to a state 
of decent silence and indeed terror in the House of 
Commons, but as it became more and more evident 
that the insurrection was being crushed by Sir John 
Maxwell and the considerable army assembled for the 
recapture of Dublin and was not extending to the 
country, " the Party " rushed to the opposite extreme 
of confidence, and began to regard the Rising with 
scarcely disguised satisfaction as marking their de- 
liverance from a vague danger which had long weighed 
upon their spirits. The effervescence among the 
young men, which Mr. Redmond's attempt to capture 
the Volunteers had only inflamed, had at last come 
to a head, and had been (so the Parliamentary wise 
men began to calculate) disposed of for another genera- 
tion by the fiasco of Easter Week and the remorseless 
executions that followed it. Mr. Laurence Ginnell 
charged that the Prime Minister's announcement that 
the first batch of the insurgent leaders had been shot 
in Kilmainham Jail was hailed with cheers from the 
Irish benches. His memory had doubtless been 
confused by the recollection of numerous only less 
painful demonstrations from the same quarter. In 


accusing them of that particular enormity he was 
undoubtedly mistaken and I felt bound, for the sake 
of truth and of human nature, to attest that the 
announcement had been received with solemn silence 
in every part of the House. Characteristically the 
Board of Erin newspapers which had for years either 
suppressed or garbled everything else I said or wrote, 
published and republished my words with an eager 
emphasis which Mr. Ginnell might well quote as 
proof that it was I, and not he, who was mistaken. 
But I added in a passage which the same newspapers 
carefully deleted, a number of instances during those 
same tragic days, when the Hibernian members acted 
with all but equal indecency in cheering wildly every 
Ministerial announcement of victory for the British 
arms and blurting out their own contempt for their 
defeated countrymen and their exultation in what they 
believed to be their final riddance of " the factionists " 
of physical force. 

Mr. Redmond sinned with the general ruck, 
although with more decorum. While the lives of the 
insurgent leaders were still trembling in the balance, 
there occurred a revolting scene in the House of 
Commons. The Prime Minister having announced, 
as the day's news from Dublin : " The rebels continue 
to hold some important public buildings in Dublin, 
and there is still fighting in the streets," Sir E. Carson 
rose to say : "I will gladly join with the Hon. and 
learned Member for Waterford in everything that can 
be done to denounce and put down those rebels now 
and for ever more." Mr. Redmond, speaking in an 
atmosphere quivering with English prejudice and 
passion, made this inconceivable response : " Will 
the House allow me to say just one sentence ? I 
really think it is scarcely necessary to give expression, 
on behalf of all my colleagues of the Nationalist Party, 
to the feeling of detestation and horror with which 
we have regarded these proceedings," expressly adding 


that he " joined most cordially with the right Hon. and 
learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin Uni- 
versity, " in advice which a less impudent arch rebel 
than he might well have tendered in a coat of sack- 
cloth and with a head strewn with ashes. 

Who except Mr. Redmond could have tolerated 
Sir E. Carson complaining of sedition and at such an 
hour ? To regret and dissociate himself from the 
rebellion was one thing, and a thing well within his 
right ; to do so by treating as some monstrous crime 
a dash for liberty, however temerarious, by young 
Irish enthusiasts of indisputable chivalry and purity 
of motive, was another and an unnatural thing. To 
pretend that in doing so he was saving Home Rule was 
to contradict the notorious truth, which was that Home 
Rule was lost already and by his Party's double-dyed 
acceptance of Partition, and, as it turned out, was only 
to be resuscitated by the inspired madness of the young 
fellows who rescued it from the hands of the politicians. 
Above all, every honest Irish instinct was revolted by 
the spectacle of a Nationalist leader closing with the 
audacious invitation to "join hands in denouncing and 
putting down these rebels now and for evermore "coming 
from the man who not many months before had his 
hands red with the preparations for a rebellion against 
the King's law more extensive and bloody and incom- 
parably more sordid than that of Easter Week. Respect 
for the British anxieties of the moment might properly 
have restrained him from the recriminations which the 
hypocrisy of the ringleader of the Ulster rebellion 
would have richly merited ; but not only to refrain 
from a chiding word but to make common cause with — 
even to outstrip — the arch rebel of the North in 
trampling into the mire the gallant young Nationalists 
who had only copied his example, snowed a perversity 
of judgment, a callousness to the spiritual pleadings 
of the Irish soul, which once for all made Mr. Redmond 
impossible as the National Leader. 


His Party, nevertheless, proved themselves equally 
perverse in cheering his' denunciation of the prostrate 
rebels. They cheered again when the Prime Minister 
announced that the " National " (i.e., Board of Erin) 
Volunteers in Drogheda had proffered their services 
to the police against the insurgents, and cheered more 
loudly still when the Prime Minister delivered an 
euloguim of the least reputable of all their colleagues 
who boasted that he had stolen the rifles of the in- 
surgents on the night of the meditated rising in the 
County Limerick and then made his escape to the 
House of Commons to enjoy his blushing honours. 
They were to give a still more striking proof of their 
alienation from honest Irish sentiment. Mr. Birrell 
had just returned from Dublin and handed in his 
resignation. This time distressingly serious and with 
irrepressible tears in his eyes, he made a moving 
description of his feelings as he " stood amongst the 
smoking ruins of Dublin and surrounded with my 
own ruins in mind and thought " and had the sympathy 
of a House melted by his eloquence and by his fate. 
He by ill chance proceeded to give a new reminder of 
his irremediable incapacity to understand Irish feeling 
by hazarding a remarkable prediction : " The unani- 
mity of Ireland has as I say even yet been preserved. 
This is no Irish rebellion. I hope that, although put 
down, as it is being put down, as it must be put down, 
with such success and with such courage and yet at the 
same time humanity toward the dupes, the rank and 
file, led astray by their leaders, that this insurrection 
in Ireland will never, even in the minds and memories 
of that people, be associated with their past rebellions 
or become an historical landmark in their history." 

A coarse chorus of assent boomed from the 
Hibernian benches. They could not have given more 
offence to Ireland's most sacred traditions if they had 
cursed the memory of Robert Emmet, the hero of a 
curiously similar insurrection outside the walls of 


Dublin Castle. If it be true that Success is the god- 
dess of an Englishman, Failure, in the patriotic sphere, 
is no less truly an object of Irish worship. Our 
history for ages is the history of heroic failure, pitted 
for ever against odds to which it was no shame to 
succumb, and condemned fatally to terminate in the 
prison or on the scaffold, in broken hearts and 
calumniated names. If Ireland has no other reward 
to offer, she has at least a lavish love in which to 
enshrine her beaten soldiers, and if her young con- 
scripts of Easter Week had done nothing more 
memorable than to give up their lives in what the 
Prime Minister of England was among the most 
generous to acknowledge to be a clean and gallant 
fight for a fine ideal, the more hopeless was their 
fight, the less willingly Ireland would forgive any 
aspersion on their memory. 

But as a matter of fact the Easter Week Insurrection 
was something more than an obscure deed of despera- 
tion. It was, even if it stood by itself, an amazing 
military success. A body of enthusiasts having ac- 
cording to the official calculation only 825 rifles at 
their command succeeded in taking possession of the 
seat of Government within a single hour and holding 
possession of it for five days against a trained army 
of 20,000 men at the least, while the fairest quarter 
of Dublin was being tumbled about their ears in a 
bombardment whose every shell shock (in the words of 
Mr. Healy who witnessed it) " sounded like the thud 
of clay falling upon his father's coffin." The one 
flaw in their plans was the unaccountable failure to 
capture Dublin Castle. It might have been the 
easiest part of their enterprise. We have already seen 
that the Castle was only defended by a " corporal's 
guard " and that, according to the evidence of the 
Lord Lieutenant, as soon as the small party of 
rebels shot the policeman at the gate of the Lower 
Castle Yard, " there was nothing to prevent them 


from going right in, of course." This view is shared 
entirely by Major Price, the Director of Military 
Intellgience, who " was talking to Sir Mathew Nathan 
in his office not 25 yards from the gate when the firing 
commenced." When asked " why they did not go 
on ? " his reply is : " They could have done it as 
easily as possible. Twenty -five determined men could 
have done it." The evidence seems to be that, not 
even twenty-five, but only " half a dozen Volunteers 
in green coats " were available, probably owing to the 
poverty of men as well as rifles — still more likely 
because great as was the contempt of the insurgent 
leaders for the ruling powers, they refused to give 
credence to the unimaginable state of unpreparedness 
now disclosed in evidence. But it is certain that if 
half the number of men detailed to seize the Post 
Office or the Four Courts or to entrench themselves 
in Stephen's Green had been devoted to the supreme 
enterprise of capturing the citadel of English power, 
Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge, with the Lord 
Lieutenant and the Under Secretary, must have fallen 
an easy prey to their arms and a victory so resounding 
must have been followed by an uprising in the country 
of which nobody could measure the extent or the 
duration. Verily it was only an ingenuous Mr. 
Birrell and an Irish Party in the last stages of decadence 
who could have fallen into the mistake of taking it for 
granted that their sneers at the beaten rebels would be 
re-echoed by the Irish nation. Any Irish schoolboy 
could have taught them that an adventure so glowing 
with romantic daring, and crowned with the halo of 
so many unflinching deaths in front of the firing- 
platoons of England, would be remembered with 
pride and tenderness as one of the most inspiring 
episodes of our history . 

They believed they were dealing with a trumpery 
Dublin commotion and were confident they had heard 
the last of it once the abscess was lanced by Sir John 


Maxwell. Both as to the facts and as to the prophecy, 
they were ludicrously astray. The insurrection was 
planned on the calculation that Reserve Lieutenant 
Von Spindler, the German Commander of the Aud 
would succeed in landing his cargo of 30,000 rifles 
and field guns on the coast of Kerry. He did pass 
safely through the lines of a great British fleet on the 
north coast of Scotland and arrived in Tralee Bay on 
the appointed day, and but for the absurd accident 
by which the motor-car conveying those who were to 
signal to him fell into the sea in the darkness, he would 
doubtless have put his guns successfully on shore. 
Had he done so, it is now known there was an 
abundance of men in every county of the South ready 
and panting to take them up, and an insurrection must 
have followed which it would have taken England 
many months to cope with, could she even have 
mustered the great army that would be required for 
the purpose in the crisis of her fate in Flanders. It 
is not so generally known that even the capture of 
Casement and the voluntary sinking of the shipful of 
German rifles would not have prevented an insurrection 
upon a vaster scale than the Dublin one, had not Pro- 
fessor Eoin MacNeill, the Commander of the Volun- 
teers, countermanded the order before the news could 
penetrate anywhere outside the neighbourhood of 
Dublin, that his order had been in turn set aside 
(only, it is believed, by a single vote) by the Dublin 
Executive. Information not to be doubted came into 
my own possession that on the appointed night many 
thousands of insurgents from every part of Cork City 
and County converged upon the different mountain 
passes for the march into Kerry, and were only dis- 
persed after scenes of angry remonstrance on the 
arrival of a messenger from Dublin, who urged in 
vain that the loss of the German armaments had put 
an end to all possibility of success. For many months 
the abject failure of the Parliamentary politicians had 


been preparing hundreds of thousands of young 
Irishmen of high spirit for any chance, however 
desperate, of retrieving the honour of their nation in 
the fair ranks of war, and the evidence before the 
Hardinge Commission leaves no room for doubt that 
by a natural reaction, the young men seduced by the 
intrigues of the Board of Erin into Mr. Redmond's 
" National " Volunteers were going over in thousands, 
with their arms, to the side of the genuine fighters. 
One of the favourite excuses of " the Party " for the 
country turning to the side of the rebels was that they 
were horrified by the barbarities with which Sir John 
Maxwell put the Rising down. It was a misapprecia- 
tion of Irish feeling as false as the rest. " The 
country " were, indeed, horrified by the twenty-one 
shootings in cold blood in Kilmainham Prison, but 
it was not so much that they pitied the young idealists 
as they admired and envied them, and they attributed 
their fate, not so much to the English militarists, as 
to the laches and incompetence of " the Party "and its 
leaders. For the young Republicans of the Original 
Volunteers, of course, Parliamentarianism in any 
shape was the enemy. But they knew themselves to 
be and would have remained a minority of no great 
dimensions, had not the mind of the country far and 
near been seething long with distrust of the Parlia- 
mentary politicians, and that not, as " the Party " 
fatuously tried to persuade themselves because the 
War Office had been uncivil in their dealings with 
Irish recruits, or even because of the Kilmainham 
fusillades, but for very much deeper reasons. Even 
the older men — " the sane and moderate elements," 
as they came to be nicknamed — although, until the 
astounding revelations that were to come later of the 
possibilities of guerilla warfare, they still believed 
armed rebellion to be stark madness, were already 
filled with disaffection to a Parliamentary Party steeped 
to the lips in a partly corrupt and wholly disgraceful 


bargain for Partition, and felt their pulses throb at 
the gallantry and unselfishness of the insurrection 
which, according to Mr. Birrell and his Hibernians, 
was only to be remembered with execration by the 
Irish Nation. 

The wise men in Westminster persised in their 
faith that the whole affair was a Dublin bubble and 
that the bubble was burst. For a moment they were 
disillusioned by the arrival of Mr. Dillon from Dublin, 
where he had been besieged in his house in North 
George's St. under the protection of a party of military. 
He burst into the House of Commons in a state of 
intense febrile excitement, and under the scandalised 
eye of Mr. Redmond, delivered a panegyric of the 
Dublin insurgents even more extravagant than had 
been his abuse and ridicule before the Rising. As we 
have seen, there had been " strong differences of 
opinion " between him and his titular leader, when 
there was question of " gingering Nathan." and when 
even the gentle Nathan asked : " What is Redmond 
up to, after what Dillon wrote to him over a month 
ago in the enclosed " (still unpublished) " ' Con- 
fidential ' letter to him ? " The " strong differences " 
this time took an exactly opposite turn. While Mr. 
Redmond thought the occasion demanded " on behalf 
of all my colleagues " an expression of his and their 
" detestation and horror " of the rebellion, his nominal 
lieutenant, fresh from Dublin, broke into a passionate 
paean to the glory of the rebels which, it may truly 
be said, did more to wound the feelings of the British 
House of Commons than all the frank hostility of the 
insurrection. Nor were his denunciations in high 
falsetto of the military altogether deprived of their 
sting by the absurd anti-climax at which he arrived 
when he complained that his sen had been insulted 
by some subordinate officer who did not express him- 
self in terms of proper respect for the name of Dillon, 
and with arm upraised registered the vow : " No son 
of mine shall ever enter the English Army." 


This, however, was but an excited moment of 
panic on the part of a man who had to do something 
to make Dublin habitable for him ever again. 
He, like the rest of " the Party," soon fell 
back into Mr. Bin-ell's comfortable infatuation that 
the " unanimity of Ireland has even yet been pre- 
served " — and preserved, of course, in support of the 
Board of Erin. Before long they had every Cor- 
poration and County Council filled with Hibernian 
nominees passing " unanimous " resolutions expressing 
the country's " detestation and horror " of the wicked 
rebels — resolutions which, before many months were 
over, the Boards that passed them wiped out from their 
books with penitential tears in the hope of absolution 
from their electorate. The rebels were being court- 
martialled or deported in their thousands, the last of 
their newspapers were extinguished, and the country- 
laid prostrate in a silence that seemed to be the brother 
of death. The reign of the Board of Erin was ap- 
parently so completely re-established that we had the 
farseeing Mr. Dillon assuring any Republicans who 
still ventured to show their heads that " the War Office 
paid no more attention to their antics than to the 
hopping of as many fleas." 




Mr. Asquith met the Easter Week crisis with a 
" gesture " which, had he persisted, might, even 
at the half-past eleventh hour, have saved Home 
Rule and himself. He went across to Ireland in 
person, visited the rebels in their prisons — it was even 
made a high crime that he shook hands with some of 
them — learned things that were not likely to be 
divulged in evidence before Lord Hardinge's Com- 
mission and returned with the conviction that England 
was not dealing with a gang of criminals, but with the 
best youth of a nation — that it was not Dublin Castle 
or Sir John Maxwell's firing-platoons that had won 
the day — that, on the contrary, it was " Dublin Castle " 
that was doomed by God and man to disappear, and 
it was militarist terrorism that must disarm before the 
more unconquerable spirit of Liberty. Hearts the 
most lacerated by recent events could not be impervious 
to the soothing influence of the pilgrimage of an 
English Prime Minister who came to Ireland not to 
insult the memory of Pearse and his brother martyrs, 
or to traduce their motives, but to do justice to their 
romantic adventure, to confess that their fight had been 
" a clean one," and to solicit advice by what great 
measures of conciliation he could best prove that they 
had not died in vain. Furthermore, on the morrow 
of an abortive insurrection savagely put down, and 
with the knowledge of the futility of expecting any 
further military aid from Germany, 1 the great mass 

1 Sir Roger Casement was bitter in his complaints of the 
negiect and contempt which met him on every hand in Berlin. 
Compare Mr. Ronald McNeill's account of the sympathetic 
experiences of the emissary of the Ulster Covenanters, juMr. 
Crawford, in Hamburg and in the Kiel Canal. 


of the population might, nobody then doubted, be 
still weaned from counsels of violence by some practical 
demonstration that Parliamentary methods were not 
wholly vain nor English promises always perfidious. 
A deputation from the All-for- Ireland League who 
waited on Mr. Asquith in Cork — headed by Captain 
Sheehan, M.P., whose credentials were his own 
services in the Munster Fusiliers, and the lives of two 
of his gallant sons buried on the fields of Flanders — 
gave the Prime Minister in a sentence the programme 
which even at that dark hour might have spelled 
salvation for the two countries. It was — "Any price 
for a United Ireland, but Partition — never under any 
possible circumstances!" 

A statesman of the Gladstone stature, returning 
to London with such convictions, would not have 
rested a day nor relaxed a muscle before giving them 
practical effect. Mr. Asquith 's incurable defect was 
not want of courage or of constructive capacity, but 
a genial indolence which was growing upon him as his 
unexpected passion for human companionship ex- 
panded. There is no evidence that he personally 
went a step further upon the road he had opened up 
in Ireland. He made the gran rifiuto and handed 
over his Irish task and with it his own future to the 
ready hands of Mr Lloyd George. Weighed though 
the latter was with a thousand feverish cares as Minister 
for Munitions, his dauntless spirit did not hesitate to 
accept the inheritance bequeathed to him by his 
unsuspecting chief. His ignorance of Irish affairs 
was fathomless as the ocean — so fathomless that, as 
will be seen in a moment, he was unaware that Mr. 
Redmond had ever said : " There is no longer an 
Ulster Difficulty," and had never heard that Mr. 
Devlin's B.O.E. Hibernians were an exclusively Catholic 
Order. His genius lay in first making daring imagina- 
tive proposals and afterwards thinking out how the 
facts might fit in with them, or might be brutally 


ignored if they did not. That is not to say that he 
was consciously heartless or unscrupulous. I think 
he was always cloudily sensible of the beauty of the 
Irish cause, both for ethnic reasons, which enabled him 
to see Celtic visions beyond the Irish seas as well as 
amidst his own haunted Welsh mountains, and also 
because Ireland in the House of Commons had shown 
him the pattern of glorious hardihood which he was 
himself to copy and improve upon for the upliftment 
of his Welsh brethren in the House of Commons, up 
to his day an ineffectual bilingual folk. Even his 
ignorance might have had its advantages, since it 
saved him from any inveterate prejudices in affairs 
so surcharged with prejudice as those of Ireland. 
It will always be debatable whether if he had accepted 
the Chief Secretaryship and devoted to it the prodigious 
energies — the matchless dynamic power of " push and 
go " — which enabled him to turn the munitionless 
debacle of Mons into the breaking of the Hindenburg 
line, he might not have succeeded, where Mr. Asquith 
with his majority of 98 and a sterilised House of Lords 
had failed through loss of nerve or a too easy temper. 

The misfortune was that in his eyes an Irish settle- 
ment was only a residual product of the trememdous 
Imperial munition manufacture he was engaged in. 
Everything had to be viewed from the standpoint of the 
world-war, and of how America was to be brought in. 
Whatever sentiment, Irish or Ulsterite, blocked the 
way had to be coaxed, and ifnotcoaxable,to be crushed, 
untroubled by the nice questions of schoolgirls as to 
right or wrong, with something of the condescension 
of one of the great ones of the earth accustomed to 
play with lions as with lambs, and the self-righteousness 
of one whose aim was to set up the horn of his nation — 
and no doubt, in some modest degree, his own. Mr. 
Lloyd George was sagacious enough to see all the 
advantages of having the solution of the Irish problem, 
and with it of the war at one of its most critical 


moments, transferred to his own hands, but he had 
no notion of allowing his ambitions to be circumscribed 
within the dingy limits of the Irish Office. As will 
be seen, he seems at first to have toyed with the tempta- 
tion of accepting the Chief Secretaryship, but he lost 
little time in contradicting the rumour in the news- 
papers that he had stooped so far to conquer. He 
had only consented to be the Deus ex machina whose 
bare appearance with his enchanted wand was to work 
in Ireland the same miracle by which he had glorified 
the Ministry of Munitions. Being in a hurry, and with 
but half his thoughts upon his work, he, unluckily, 
hit upon a solution so extraordinary that its audacity 
was its only merit, and his elementary ignorance of 
conditions in Ireland its only excuse. It was nothing 
less than a proposal to hand over a country where the 
shots of the insurrection had barely died away to a 
Provisional Government of Irishmen to be in some 
apocalyptic manner selected. 

It was the first time, during a five years' term of 
power, Mr. Asquith's Cabinet had thought of calling 
into counsel a body of Irish Nationalists whose pro- 
posals they had hitherto spent their time in deriding 
and thwarting. It was possibly the reports the Prime 
Minister had brought back from Dublin, which gave 
them their first inkling that Mr. Redmond and the 
Hibernians were a spent force, and made them rush 
to a conclusion equally extreme in the opposite 
direction, that ours was the only Parliamentary force 
left which had any chance of retaining the confidence 
of the young men and at the same time of reassuring 
the Unionist minority. According to the official 
calculation, plainly, the All-for-Ireland League offered 
the principal hope of working out Mr. Lloyd George's 
impulsive plan for straightening out the Irish tangle. 
The compliment was a pretty one ; but belated 
homage of that kind, it can scarcely be necessary to 
say, was not likely to shake our conviction that the 


proposal now shadowed forth rather than put in 
definite terms was a fantastic and impossible one, and 
from the outset of my first conversation with Mr. 
Lloyd George I thought it a duty without ambiguity 
to tell him so. The idea apparently was the formation 
of all sorts of elements, Nationalist and Unionist, 
into a Provisional Government to " carry on " 
until the war was over. In a country where the 
fires of civil war were only half extinguished, 
where the insurrectionary youth were rather fired than 
cowed by the fate of their leaders before the bullets 
of the firing platoons and the savage sentences of the 
courts martial, one set of Nationalist Parliamentarians 
who had forfeited public confidence beyond repair, 1 — 
another set whose voices had not been allowed to be 
heard for years in three out of the four provinces — and 
a third set, the Ulster Covenanters, still raging with 
the passions which only the world-war prevented from 
finding vent in an insurrection of their own — were to be 
miraculously combined to relieve magnanimous 
England of the responsibility fo rruling Ireland, And 
with what a commission ! Nothing less than, with 
our co-operation and under the protection of a British 
Army, to give practical effect to the pact between 
Mr. Redmond and Sir E. Carson set forth in the 
House of Commons a few weeks before — viz., " to 
denounce those rebels with horror and detestation and 
put them down for ever more," and by such means 
to reduce Ireland to silence until the war was safely 
over, without the smallest guarantee of any National 
Settlement worth the name to follow. I should, no 
doubt, have displayed more of the wisdom of the 
serpent, had I played with Mr. Lloyd George's sug- 
gestion until he had first developed it in all its crazy 
particulars — if, indeed, he had got so far as thinking 

1 No specific mention was made of Mr. Redmond's Party, 
but to leave them out would be the one folly uncommitted by 
the scheme. 


out any particulars at all. Prudently or imprudently, 
I thought it fairer to him and to everybody to make no 
concealment from the first of my conviction that the 
institution of an Irish Provisional Government of 
such a sort and at such a moment was a wildly — 
almost insanely — impracticable project and could only 
put an end to the last hope, that after an interval of 
appeasement our own slower but surer plans of con- 
ciliation might once more come within the range of 
practical politics. Everything was to depend upon 
our being wheedled into consent to Partition in some 
shape. That hope once dissipated the Provisional 
Government was incontinently dropped and this is 
probably the first intimation the world has got that 
it was ever in contemplation. 

However, I had better let my part in the transaction 
tell its own story from notes made on the days of the 
various conversations between us (or in one instance, 
the day after) while my memory was still fresh : 


(May 23, 1916) 

On a request conveyed through T. M. H (ealy) I 
met B (onar) L (aw) alone to-day in his room at the 
House of Commons amidst suffocating clouds of 
tobacco-smoke. He asked was there no way of taking 
advantage of the present opportunity ? I said for the 
moment all was chaos. The best thing the Govern- 
ment could do was to try to soften the memory of 
recent happenings in Dublin by fearless investigation 
into responsibilities and by leniency all round. He 
asked was not some settlement — even a provisional 
one — possible ? I said anything hastily patched up 
was sure to turn out badly, but if a policy of appease- 
ment were first tried for six months, there would be 
every prospect of bringing the best Irishmen together 


to devise some generous settlement before the war 
was over. Our own position had been stated in a 
sentence to A (squith) when he was in Cork : " Any 
price for a United Ireland, but Partition — never under 
any possible circumstances." " Then," he said, 
shaking his head : " It is all up. It is useless to think 
of Ulster coming in." " For the moment I quite 
agree," I said. That is why I despair of any move 
while feeling is at present fever heat on both sides." 
B. L.— " That is very discouraging." O B.— " Who 
can be otherwise than discouraged ? Do you suppose 
the tragedy of it all, and of what might have been is 
not haunting me day and night ? Better discourage 
you than mislead you into thinking Partition in any 
shape can ever do anything except make bad worse." 

He quite agreed that facts had to be faced, and 
asked " if I should have any objection to meet Sir E. 
C(arson) and Col. Craig ? " I replied not the least — 
that I never obtruded my views on others but was 
always willing to state them frankly to anybody who 
cared to listen. He said Sir E. had always expressed 
the highest respect for my action for the last ten years, 
but he dared say there would be little use in our meeting 
if my position as to the exclusion of Ulster was un- 
alterable. " But could not," he again suggested, 
" something be patched up even provisionally ? Would 
it not be possible for you in a Parliament of the other 
three provinces to become leader of a powerful Opposi- 
tion, with the Unionists of the South on your side and 
in that way bring round Ulster ?" I said he little knew 
the Unionists of the South. In the higher interests of 
Ireland I had been fighting for their lives at the risk 
of my own for the past thirteen years and not more 
than a dozen of them had dared come on a platform to 
declare for me, although they were all ready enough 
to protest their sympathy in secret. I did not blame 
them. They were intimidated like our own people 
by the political machine and would be more back- 


boneless than ever in an assembly from which Ulster 
was banished. B. L. — " Do you think it would be 
quite impossible to attract Ulster back, if the thing 
was approached temporarily in a friendly spirit ?." 
I replied that " a three-quartered Parliament in Dublin 
would be hopelessly handicapped from the first. 
They would have no funds for anything except to 
pay the placehunters, and there would be no generous 
spirit to appeal to. They would divide from the first 
day into two bodies — the placemen and their backers, 
and the young idealists who would shrink from the 
whole ugly business and turn to other means — that 
is to say, if you could even get them to tolerate the 
thing at all. You could not. Any attempt to vivisect 
the country they would regard as the worst crime in 
all England's catalogue. You would probably have 
the barricades thrown up again in Dublin on the 
opening day. Whereas Ulster had only to remember 
they were Irishmen, and come in on the magnificent 
terms which we proposed, and which they now could 
have with universal assent, and the bare fact of such 
an Irish Reunion would do more to capture and disarm 
the Sinn Feiners than ever your armies will do, and you 
would at once have all the materials for a strong and 
level-headed National Government of Ireland. All 
this could have been brought about without much 
difficulty five or six years ago, before the Larne gun- 
running commenced, if A(squith) had then gone to 
Ireland in the same spirit of conciliation and concession 
as he has just done. Now it is both too late and too 
soon. You have set up an Ulster Provisional Govern- 
ment and you have brought an Irish Republic on the 
scene. But I don't say for a moment all is lost. Spend 
the next six months in cultivating a better feeling and 
your opportunity may quite possibly come again." 
That, he said, might well be, but that would involve 
a long delay, and he seemed to intimate that in the 
meantime the men behind R. were forcing him to go 



back to a policy of Obstruction, in order to recover 
their popularity, and that the effect might be disastrous 
to the prospects of the Allies. I said in their despera- 
tion anything was possible, but Parliamentary obstruc- 
tion would be less harmful than if they grasped at a 
Partition of Ireland Act which they would be wholly 
incapable of getting to work, for they would have the 
whole race against them. The main strength of the 
Rebellion was that it was the reaction against the 
bungling and corruption by which the country had 
been ruled in obedience to a sham-Catholic secret 
society which did far more to alarm Protestant Ulster 
and to compromise the highest interests of England 
than the uprising of the fine young fellows they had 
just been shooting down in Dublin. The one hope 
was to appeal to a higher and broader Irish patriotism. 

B. L., who impressed me much by his straight- 
forwardness, again expressed his feeling of dejection, 
but said, " We've got to do something," and said there 
might still be some use in a meeting between C. and 
myself. So we parted. In the beginning of the 
interview he intimated that, if it should be found 
necessary to appoint a Liberal as Chief Secretary, his 
friends were inclined to favour L(loyd) G(eorge) 
although he knew what I thought of him. But he 
did not leave the impression that anything had actually 
been decided upon. 

P.S. — A few hours later the L. G. nomination was 
announced by L. G. himself to T. M. H. as a fait 

(May 25, 1916) 

T. M. H. told me L. G. had called him into his 
room, and asked if I would be willing to see him. H. 
said he did not know owing to his treatment of me on 
certain occasions L. G. might remember. But, of 
course, no such objection could be thought of. Met 


him to-day at the Metropole (Munitions Headquarters). 
He said, " I suppose you know why I want you. I 
am going to see what I can do for Ireland." I replied : 
" I suppose you are tired of being told you are a man 
of courage. But I am afraid that is the only comfort 
I can give you on your journey." " Things are very 
bad," he said, " but is it quite so bad as that ? 
O'B. — " I was once one of the most sanguine of men, 
but I am nearer to despair of anything I can do than 
I was ever before in the darkest times." L. G. — 
*' Oh, come, you are a brave Irishman. Something 
will have to be done. Is there no way of getting all 
the best Irishmen together, even provisionally ? " 
He then said he knew I would dismiss from 
my mind all former differences between us — 
that, of course, he knew how I felt about the old 
budget troubles — that, as I knew, he would have 
excluded Ireland altogether if he had been allowed. 
" You admitted yourself I was bound to be guided 
by the majority of the Irish Party." I said a very 
much worse thing in my eyes was his appropriating 
the first of the Home Rule Parliament's four sessions 
for his Insurance Act, and forcing it upon Ireland, and 
also his part in the abominable finances of the Home 
Rule Bill. Worst of all, he must forgive me if I did 
not find it easy to forget that he had destroyed the 
Irish Party by making them Treasury pensioners. So 
long as Irishmen were doing good work in Parliament 
their countrymen never refused to support them 
generously. Now they had ceased to depend on the 
Irish people, and in consequence Irish seats in Parlia- 
ment had become like Dispensary Doctorships or 
Corporation jobs, a mere scramble among men with 
the longest tailed families and the least creditable 
secret influence. Hence the kind of men the Irish 
Party were now filled with. " Yes," he said, " those 
who have turned up since Parnell's time are a poor 
lot. What has become of your young men ? " I 


could not help blurting out : " Those of them your 
Government have not turned into place-hunters you 
have been shooting in Kilmainham Jail. You have 
ruled Ireland for six years through a pseudo-Catholic 
Secret Society of the most sordid kind, and you are 
now face to face with the reaction. Your own Secret 
Society is being countered with another, which is at 
least worlds above it in idealism and disinterestedness. " 
He took it all with great good humour. " I suppose 
you are referring to Devlin's Society, the Hibernians ? " 
he said, and then laughingly : " Healy told me while 
I was disendowing the Church in Wales I was endowing 
the Molly Maguire Church in Ireland." He asked : 
" Is Devlin's Society really confined to Catholics ? " 
I said : " You did not do me the honour of listening 
while I was endeavouring to get you not to endow them 
under the Insurance Act, or you would know that this 
Hibernian Society is so exclusively Catholic that 
Grattan or Robert Emmet or Parnell as Protestants 
would be debarred from membership unless they first 
pledged themselves to. frequent the Catholic Sacra- 
ments. Even their Catholicity is such a sham that 
the Order was a few years ago under interdict from 
Rome, which was only raised on their abandoning 
the blasphemous form of initiation which was by 
placing the postulant's hand upon a crucifix while 
making his vow of secrecy." L. G. touched the bell 
and asked the Secretary to 'phone to the Irish Office 
for the numbers of the Ancient Order of Hibernians 
in Ireland. I told him R(edmond) in the House of 
Commons estimated them at 90,000, but they had 
since much increased. The Hibernian " Approved 
Society " under the Insurance Act would not probably 
represent one third of the total. The reply came back 
from the Irish Office that they would have to telegraph 
to Ireland for particulars. I found it hard to refrain 
from commenting on these two grotesque instances 
of the wisdom with which Ireland is governed — that 


L. G. did not know the Mollies were an exclusively 
Catholic body, and that nobody in the Irish Office 
could tell him the numbers of what had been for years 
the ^most formidable organisation in Ireland. I 
apologised if I had been a bit rough, but it was because 
the Government had closed their ears to the most 
elementary facts that they had landed themselves and 
us in the present mess. 

" Well," he said, with unbroken good humour, 
" something will have to be done and you must help 
us." I replied : " Willingly if I could honestly tell 
you I can see anything to be done for the moment 
except mischief. As I told B. L. when he was kind 
enough to ask me, it is both too late and too soon — 
too late for the concessions that might have won 
Ulster four or five years ago, and too soon to hope that 
any small haphazard measures can have any effect 
upon the passions now raging. You might as well try 
to quench a live volcano with a watering pot." " Do 
you really think the insurrectionary spirit is still alive, 
or at least that it will spread ? " he asked. I replied 
by repeating some verses written by Pearse the night 
before his execution : " How are you going to put 
down a spirit like that ? They may seem poor verses 
enough, but they will strike a spark from many millions 
of souls." " It is all very sad," he said, " but they have 
no leaders." " Leaders have a way of turning up 
in Ireland when they are least expected," was my 
comment. " A few years ago you might have won 
them all — both Sinn Fein and Ulster." 

He admitted that no real concessions had ever been 
made to Ulster. " No," I said, " strict justice perhaps, 
but justice raw and unboiled. When I proposed some 
real concessions, I was set upon with the cry that I 
was handing Ireland over to the veto of twelve Orange- 
men, and when on behalf of my friends, I made the 
only protest ever heard in this House against the 
bargain for the Partition of Ireland, our people were 


told in their lying newspapers that we had voted 
against Home Rule, and it was upon that villainous 
cry our candidates were beaten at the County Council 
and District Council elections." I noticed that L. G. 
at once pricked up his ears and looked thoughtful. 
Quite clearly, the opportunist politician had jumped 
to the conclusion that the Partition of Ireland could 
not be such an unpopular measure, since we had 
suffered at the polls for protesting against it. I soon 
disabused him of the illusion. " That," I said, " was 
how the corruptionists blinded the unfortunate people 
to the truth. Now that honest Irishmen are beginning 
to realise what really happened they would tear the 
fellows limb from limb that would attempt to play 
the game of Partition in their name." 

L. G. changed the subject and pressed me whether 
something might not still be done, even provisionally 
" until the war was over " (a phrase that struck harshly 
on my ear) and for the first time made any direct 
reference to the Provisional Government scheme. 
The suggestion was a purely tentative one. He did 
not go into particulars as to how it was to be formed, 
but I inferred we were to be a sort of connecting link. 
I was amazed and told him so in pretty candid terms, 
for he seemed immediately to draw back. I told him 
bluntly any such thing was at this moment imprac- 
ticable ; no genuine Nationalist could touch it as a 
nominee of England and while the country was under 
the heel of martial law. " Well," he said, " there 
must be good Irishmen whom it might be well to take 
into consultation," and questioned me as to names. 
He seemed to regard R. as fini and no longer of much 
account. I agreed, but with regret. R.'s judgment 
was all right, but circumstances were too strong for 
him and he ended generally by doing the wrong thing. 
He mentioned Sir Horace Plunkett. I said I had 
never entertained any unfriendly feeling for P. 
He was a high-minded and devoted Irishman only 


that he got it into his head that the history of Ireland 

began with " " With his creameries — Yes," broke 

in L. G. I remarked that with the more go-ahead 
farmers he had a good deal of influence, but was 
detested by the town shopkeepers. " Including 
Dillon," he interjected with a grin. Various names 
were canvassed, nearly all of whom I spoke favourably 
of, but doubted whether there was any personality 
that could bring them together in the present culbute 
generate. Stephen Gwynn's name cropped up. L. G. 
remarked that Gwynn did not speak bitterly of any 
one. I agreed. L. G. was surprised to hear G. was 
a Protestant. I added that he was a grandson of 
William Smith O'Brien, who was a Protestant, too. 
L. G. looked a bit bewildered as if it were the first 
time he heard speak of Smith O'Brien. I recalled 
that Gwynn, M'Murrough Kavanagh and a number 
of other clever young Protestants had begun by joining 
Lord Dunraven, but were intimidated by the abuse 
of all who came over to us in the Molly Press and 
allowed themselves to be seduced by seats in Parlia- 
ment which the Mollies alone could give. Two of 
the most valued Protestant members of the Land 
Conference were silenced with baronetcies by the 
Aberdeens, and T. W. Russell, who might have been 
an immense power among the Ulster Dissenters 
allowed himself to be bullied into " toeing the line " 
and got his job. " His influence now does not count " 
was L. G.'s comment. 

I said that was how the elements that might have 
brought about as easy a settlement on Home Rule as 
upon the far more envenomed Agrarian problem had 
been debauched, or frightened. He questioned me 
as to who would be an acceptable Lord Lieutenant, 
adding to my amazement : " You know I am not 
going to be Chief Secretary " (shrugging his shoulders) 
" I could not think of pinning myself to an office like 
that." I said that would be a very grievous disappoint- 


ment to begin with. " I might go over to see for 
myself how things stand." I inferred from his re- 
ference to Wimborne that he had thrown over 
Wimborne. I told him he must quite understand 
that I wanted nothing for anybody, and I only ventured 
opinions about individuals very reluctantly and solely 
because he knew so little of the country. Dunraven 
was of all the Irish Unionists the man of most capacity 
and tolerance as a statesman, but I took it for granted 
would be of all men the least welcome to R.'s friends 
or masters, although in their present plight they 
might grasp at anything. He was curiously enough 
abused for the two very things that would secure his 
fame by and bye — his success in reconciling the 
landlords to give up landlordism, and in breaking the 
hostility of the Southern Unionists to Home Rule. 
But I presumed his time had not yet come. L. G. 
shook his head, but said nothing. I mentioned a few 
other names — Lord Carnarvon, whose father was the 
first great Englishman to embrace Home Rule and had 
suffered for doing so ; Lord Shaftesbury who had been 
three times Lord Mayor of Belfast, was Chancellor 
of the Belfast University, and was known to be at 
heart reconciled to Home Rule by consent ; and the 
Duke of Devonshire, of whom I only knew that his 
children lived at Lismore and loved Ireland better than 
England. He asked what of Lord Derby ? I said 
I knew nothing pro or con, except that his name would 
be identified in Ireland with recruiting and possibly 

Had I any objection to talking things over with 
Sir E. Carson and Col. Craig ? I told him I had no 
objection to meeting anybody of any section, with the 
possible exception of Devlin (for reasons I must 
decline to discuss) ; at which he made a gesture of 
annoyance which convinced me that Devlin and he 
have not yet broken off relations, and that he thinks 
D. may still find refuge in the Labour ranks. We 


then drifted away into general talk of the situation. 
He referred with great cordiality to my brother-in- 
law, Arthur Raffalovich, whose familiarity with the 
laws of currency seemed to have made an enormous 
impression upon him, and whose geniality and mastery 
of English was most welcome to him in his com- 
munications with the Russian Minister of Finance. 
He took an extremely gloomy view of the war, saying 
that the Italians were doubled up and France bleeding 
to death. He agreed with me that what England 
wanted was not men, but a man, admitting that the 
new style of unwarlike English conscripts could not 
very much count. He was quite alive to the superiority 
of the French as soldiers, and spoke with enthusiasm 
of some of their generals — Petain, Castelnau and a 
little Breton, Maud'huy, whom he had met, but 
referred with alarming irreverence to Joffre who, he 
said, owed his position to political reasons, there being 
a dread in Republican France of any too successful 
soldier — all of which, it must be owned, impressed me 
with the superficiality of his own judgments. We 
parted on the understanding that he was to arrange 
an interview with C. 

(May 30, 1916) 

Met Sir E. C. with L. G. at Metropole. C. said 
he was afraid there was no prospect of a satisfactory 
settlement " for the moment." " That," I observed, 
" was exactly what I had been advising L. G.," but 
I was glad to think his statement implied that later on, 
when the present bitterness abated, a settlement by 
consent was quite on the cards before the winter was 
over. C. concurred, adding that the difficulties of 
anything immediate had been greatly aggravated by 
the Rebellion. People in Ulster were constantly 
asking him how were they to hand over the country 
to the authors of the Pro-German rebellion and of 


certain speeches in the House. I burned to make a 
different answer and remind him of Catiline com- 
plaining of sedition, but contented myself with re- 
calling that we had never promised that Ireland was 
to be won except by H. R., and yet the mere proffer 
of H. R. — miserable a fiasco as it was turning out to 
be — had revolutionized Irish resentment so far that 
there must be at least five hundred thousand Irish 
soldiers fighting in the various Allied armies. L. G. 
nodded approvingly. C. said he was speaking of the 
difficulties in dealing with Ulster. Apart from the 
religious trouble, which he never liked to speak of, 
there was the dread of the commercial men for their 
trade, and the hostility of the Northern workmen who 
were constantly passing! to and fro between Belfast 
and Glasgow and Liverpool. He had always thought 
separate Trade Union laws was one of the mistakes 
of those who framed the H. R. Bill. I intimated that 
it was a perfectly adjustable difficulty, as the Southern 
Trade Unionists were just as inextricably mixed up 
with the British Trade Unions. 

C. said that H. R. Government had proceeded 
all along on the assumption that Ulster did not count. 
I said that could never be charged against my friends 
and myself at all events. C. said he had always felt 
that from the beginning I had realised the situation, 
but R. told them there was no longer an Ulster problem. 
L. G. (in amazement) — " Did he really say that ? " 
C. — " He did, indeed, and said there would be no 
difficulty in putting down any resistance in Ulster 
with the strong hand." I said that kind of thing was 
bluff — there was bluff on all sides. The cards of my 
friends and myself were on the table all the time. If 
Ulster would only join us in Dublin, she could prac- 
tically name her own terms. The Irish Unionists 
would become the biggest individual Party in an Irish 
Parliament, and might even be its rulers if they threw 
themselves into a patriotic and sensible programme ► 


C. — " You cannot expect Ulster to come in just now." 
O'B. — " No, nor anybody else. That is why I urge 
there should be nothing precipitate. Spend the next 
six months in mollifying the present bitterness — take 
your military precautions by all means, but don't be 
afraid to own there were faults on both sides. Trust 
to leniency rather than to force, and we will then be 
all in a better humour to come together in a United 
Ireland." L. G. (with sudden energy) — " In six 
months the war will be lost." C. (throwing up his 
arms) — " If the war is lost we are all lost." L. G. — 
" The Irish-American vote will go over to the German 
side. They will break our blockade and force an 
ignominious peace on us, unless something is done, 
even provisionally, to satisfy America." O'B. — " That 
is to say, of course, that whatever is to be done shall be 
done for war purposes. Take care I beg of you, in 
the interests of the war as well as of Ireland, that you 
will not infuriate Irish-American feeling rather 
than appease it. I most solemnly believe that will be 
the result if you attempt anything on the basis of 
splitting up Ireland. Make no mistake about it we 
are at a point at which all our labours for a better 
feeling for the last thirteen years may be lost. All 
honest Irish feeling will be so fiercely against you, you 
will have to send an army corps to open your mutilated 
Dublin Parliament and in spite of them the people 
will bundle the whole crew of them into the LifTey. 
And " (turning to C.) " don't think I say it in any way 
as a taunt, but what happened in Dublin the other day 
would be child's play compared with the horrors in 
Belfast. Your men are dogged fighters, no doubt, 
but so are ours, you will admit. Even if you could 
outnumber them, and it would be a tougher job than 
you had in Easter Week in Dublin, you would have to 
reckon with the rest of Ireland, and with hundreds of 
thousands of Irish soldiers when they get back from 
the war." C. did not utter a word of dissent. 


L. G. clung obstinately to his view that, come 
what might, something must be done before the 
American elections or Wilson would be returned and 
the war lost. 1 He announced positively that the 
Government had information that the Germans were 
planning a new descent upon Ireland. He spoke 
again with the utmost gloom of the military situation, 
and in such exaggerated terms that the object was 
plainly to frighten C. Not without success ; for C. 
was visibly affected and said with a deep emphasis 
that Ulster would go very far indeed rather than see 
the war lost. That was all he could say. L. G. — 
*' It is saying a great deal. It is a very important 
statement.'' O'B. — " So important that if it means 
a United Ireland, we are all at one. But that is just 
the point, and there is no use trying to blink it. What 
ideal men have for ages been suffering for is Ireland 
a Nation. Go on with this Partition business, and you 
would make the very name of Ireland an impossible 
one. You would have to find two new names for it — 
I suppose Orangia and Molly-Maguire-land — and you 
would leave five-sixths of an honest Irish race without 
a country or an ideal." L. G. — " We are only speaking 
of a provisional arrangement." O'B. — " A ' pro- 
visional ' arrangement that is to last until Col. Craig 
and his men of their own free will walk into a bankrupt 
Dublin Parliament, for the pleasure of being ruled by 
Mr. Devlin and his Mollies." C. avowed that he had 
never liked Partition. The Ulster men had grasped 
at it as their only chance of preserving their British 
citizenship, and nothing else had been offered them. 
They had before them the fate of the Unionists of the 

1 This curious prediction is another instance of quantula 
sapientia regitur mnndus. The candidate favoured by England, 
Ifgathered, was Roosevelt, who was, in his own phrase, " beaten 
to affrazzle " in the Republican Convention. By another blunder, 
no less comical, of the Washington Embassy, the real Republican 
-candidate, Mr. Hughes, was reported to be an enemy of England. 


South. In Cork itself they had been driven out of the 
County Council and the Corporation, and that, he 
believed, because they were supposed to be in favour 
of O'Brien's concessions to the North." O'B. — 
" Rather because these concessions had not been 
closed with by the Irish Unionists themselves. My 
own friends met the same fate and are very proud of 
it. Things of that kind are to be expected everywhere 
from an unscrupulous political machine. A genuine 
Irish Parliament would soon deal with the gang who 
run it, if the Irish Unionists would only look on Ireland 
as their own country, and give us a chance." 

L. G. pressed me again to make some alternative 
suggestions, saying : "I have failed to get a single 
suggestion of any kind from the other people. What- 
ever I propose they will find fault with, but they will 
not take the responsibility of making a single definite 
suggestion themselves." O'B. — " They are waiting 
until they see how the cat will jump in Ireland, no 
doubt. But you have had my alternative suggestions 
before you all the time — I have never criticised without 
offering some counter-proposal, and you would never 
listen." L. G.— " Yes, but now ? [' O'B.— " I^have 
told you quite definitely what my view is — six months 
of conciliatory government to pave the way for a 
Conference of Irishmen on the basis of a United 
Ireland, with whatever aid you can get from Overseas 
Prime Ministers like those of Canada and Australia 
where Ulstermen and Nationalists live side by side 
in freedom without friction." L.G. — " But can you 
give us no suggestion of something to be done at once 
to save the war ?" I said that was to me a new situation 
and it was not quite fair to expect me to be prepared 
with any considered proposal, but as far as I could 
judge on the spur of the moment, a far more effective 
way of impressing American and Irish opinion than 
the experiment he had mentioned which was bound 
to fail badly and at once, for want of any basis of 


agreement, would be that Parliament should give 
Ireland some such guarantee of freedom after the war 
as the Tsar and the Duma had given with such striking 
effect to Poland. It ought to be possible to arrange 
a debate which would be practically unanimous and 
would at once strike the imagination of Ireland and 
of America. C. and L. G. were afraid the difficulties 
would be almost insurmountable. L. G. (with bitter- 
ness) — " You would have somebody like Dillon 
starting up without even knowing the effect of what he 
was saying and wrecking the whole business." O'B — 
" If you refer to his performance of the other night 
he knew perfectly well what he was at. He was only 
trying to make Dublin habitable for him. But that 
only proves D. can be easily enough brought to bow 
to the inevitable." 

I then urged upon C. that he knew how to put his 
views in such a way, with all that was at stake, as to 
strike a note that would capture the hearts of young 
Irishmen, Sinn Feiners and all. If he would then 
take a secret Referendum — " yes " or "no " — of the 
Covenanters upon a letter of advice signed by himself, 
and such men as Craig, Londonderry, Shaftesbury and 
Sharman Crawford (whose name was still one to 
conjure witha mong the Dissenters) 90 per cent, of the 
Covenanters outside Belfast and Portadown would 
gladly endorse his action and give him a mandate to 
see things through. C. — " I don't even know whether 
I could get these people to sign it." O'B. — " If you 
will allow me to say it, the great mistake you make 
about Ulster is to minimise your own power there. 
Without you, we should still have plenty of street 
riots, but nothing more formidable." C. shook his 
head and laughed. I added that all the vows of the 
Covenanters were made against a Home Rule Bill 
which was now given up or rendered unworkable by 
its own authors. There would be the advantage of 
beginning with a clean slate, with possibly some big 


scheme of Federation of the whole Empire in which 
the Covenanters' right of Imperial citizenship might 
stand upon the same footing as if they were English- 
men. C. said he had always felt and even publicly 
stated that the situation might be entirely changed 
under some Federal arrangement which would pre- 
serve to Ulster its Imperial standing and under which 
Ireland might be treated as a unit, with general 
consent. 1 L. G. pressed me to put my suggestions 
in writing. I said I should willingly do so, although 
no doubt any Irishman who made a helpful suggestion 
of any kind at this moment took his life in his hands. 
As C. stood up to leave he, I think, greatly surprised 
both of us by stating that, having regard to the 
exigencies of the war, which were to him the supreme 
consideration, he would consult with his friends in 
Ulster and advise them to reconsider the whole situa- 
tion under the new conditions we had been discussing, 
L. G. — " That is a very important declaration indeed." 
I left immediately after. 2 I am confident I have 

1 Subsequent developments led me often and anxiously to jog 
my memory on this point, and I have not a shadow of doubt that 
this pricis, made at the moment, accurately records Sir E. Carson's 
statement that, in the Federal arrangement to which he looked 
forward with hope, Ireland was to be dealt with as a unit. 

2 Some minor episodes in the conversation, which were also 
noted at the time, may here be added : 

L. G. (to me) — " Did not Sir Edward once prosecute you ? " 
O'B. (laughingly) — " Have you already forgotten your old leader's 
injunction to ' Remember Mitchelstown ' ? " C. (with marked 
cordiality) — *' I think Mr. O'Brien is the most forgiving Irishman 
I ever met." O'B. — " Oh, all these things were the fortunes of 
war, and we had the comfort of knowing we gave as good as we 
got." I thought L. G. winced perceptibly at the reference to my 
readiness to forgive. 

In the course of some reference to R. (whom L. G. seemed 
rather disposed to regard as a back number) I remarked : " Give 
R. his brief and I know no man who can make a more eloquent 
use of it in the House of Commons." C. — " That is so. He 
has an admirable manner. R. and I always got on very well, 
we began together on the same circuit." L. G. — " Did R. have 


noted all the references to Partition made in the inter- 
view. L. G. when I pressed him as to his own position 
only said : " Mind, I am making no proposition." 

The next morning (May 31) I sent the promised 
Memo, to Mr. Lloyd George, who was attending a 
Cabinet meeting. 

In a covering letter, I wrote : " Enclosed jottings 
are the best I can do as the result of my cogitations 
last evening. If you like to see me again, I shall be 
at your disposal all this day and to-morrow, after 
which ■ Bellevue, Mallow, Co. Cork,' will find me. 
But I am far from wishing to obtrude myself un- 
necessarily. I hope enclosed communique from to- 
day's Times is not accurate. 1 Any confident announce- 
much practice ? " C. — " No, but it was because he became a 
politician. That I have never done. I have remained a lawyer 
first and a politician afterwards." 

Lord Pirrie was mentioned by L. G., who said he supposed 
he had no influence in Belfast. C. — " No. He preferred a 
peerage to the power he might have had as the head of his great 
shipbuilding yard." L. G. — " I don't think you or I would make 
that mistake." 

Referring to the effect a broad National pronouncement from 
C. would have on young Irishmen, I mentioned that Professor 
John MacNeill, up to the eve of the Rising the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Volunteers, was attacked by a Molly crowd in Cork 
for calling for " Three cheers for Carson and the Ulster 
Volunteers ! " and the Chairman of the meeting — a Cork Town 
Councillor named Walsh, sentenced to death for his part in the 
Rising, had got his skull fractured on the same occasion. " Is 
that really the case ? " asked L. G. C. — " Yes. I noticed it at 
the time, but I thought it was that poor Swift MacNeill, the 
M.P., who was referred to." O'B — " The Sinn Fein MacNeill 
was once a believer in Redmond and his policy, as Walsh was 
in mine." C. — " Indeed, he was. I have a document signed by 
Redmond and MacNeill appealing for subscriptions for their 
Volunteers. They proposed to take the defence of the shores of 
Ireland into their own hands, whatever that might mean." L. G. 
looked as if the Irish Sphinx was too much for him. 1 

1 Referring to a statement that Mr. Lloyd George would on the 
motion for the Adjournment for the Recess announce an Irish 
Settlement on the basis of the Buckingham Palace Conference. 


ment just yet would almost surely lead to bitter dis- 
appointment hereafter and would force me, at least, 
to make it clear that the Buckingham Palace basis — 
which was Partition — is for us impossible and even 
undiscussable. Indeed that seemed to be the view of 
our interlocutor of last evening as well." 

The Memo, simply elaborated my suggestion that 
" if, unfortunately, it should be essential to take any 
decisive public action at once," the best way of 
favourably impressing both Ireland and America 
would be an ' agreed ' debate in the House of Com- 
mons involving a distinct pledge of National Self- 
Government for Ireland, " acceptable to the people 
of every part of the country," to be worked out by a 
small conciliatory Conference. I now added the 
suggestion (notable in view of subsequent events) 
that the debate " should be initiated by an impressive 
message from the King (the Tsar did the same in the 
case of Poland) " in which case, " it seems impossible 
to imagine that any responsible person of any Party, 
British or Irish, should misconduct himself. . . ." 

" All would, of course, depend on the nature of 
Sir E. Carson's declaration. If he were armed with 
the assent of the Covenanters (which he might with 
certainty obtain upon a strong representation of the 
War Danger and a guarantee that any agreed settle- 
ment hereafter would be founded not on the present 
Bill but on a new Federal arrangement securing to 
the Ulstermen substantially the same rights of Imperial 
citizenship as to Englishmen, Scotchmen or Welsh- 
men) he might safely be trusted to lay the proper 
emphasis upon the readiness of Ulster to reconsider 
the situation under these new conditions, and to do so 
in a manner that would appeal to the imagination of 
young Irishmen in Ireland and in America, rousing 
their National pride and dispelling any apprehension 
of dismemberment of the country. What would be 
most important would be a definite promise to go into 


Conference with all sections of his countrymen with 
a view to the reconsideration of the entire question 
of a new and wiser settlement by consent. It can 
hardly be doubted that Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Walter 
Long and other men who carry weight in Ulster would 

The Memo, wound up in these words : " Please 
bear in mind that these suggestions are only made, at 
your request, as a bad second best to my own pre- 
ference for slower and better matured action, nothing 
except the War Emergency in the least shaking my 
belief that any sudden or ill-advised attempt to solve 
the difficulty (so to say) ' by miracle ' will only lead 
to more widespread dangers hereafter. And it must 
be clearly understood that, to any scheme expressly 
or impliedly contemplating Partition in any form, 
my friends and myself are unalterably opposed." 

Neither to the Memo, nor to the accompanying 
letter did I ever receive a reply. But Mr. Lloyd 
George did publish in the Times of the following 
morning an official denial of the communique of the 
previous day, and he made no statement of any kind 
before the Adjournment for the Recess. For good 
reason, as will be seen in the following chapter. 



The madcap " Irish Provisional Government " scheme 
for " putting down those rebels for evermore " was 
not heard of again. Apparently without a day's 
delay, Mr. Lloyd George dropped it and fell back on 
the Buckingham Palace Partition project in an aggra- 
vated form. Having once opted for Partition he paid 
me the compliment of recognising that other and more 
accommodating counsellors would have to be called 
in. Here consequently stopped my own inner know- 
ledge of his operations. We must await the confidences 
of the other parties to these transactions (if we are not 
destined to wait in vain) in order tc be able fully to 
reconstruct the history of the next week, but it may 
be safely concluded that on the very day following his 
interview with Sir E. Carson and myself, Mr. Lloyd 
George summoned Mr. Redmond and Sir E. Carson 
to the Hotel Metropole to discuss a wholly different 
programme and it is certain that before the end of the 
week, Partition was the settled policy of the Govern- 
ment, of the Hibernian Party and of Sir E. Carson, 
with the Four Counties of the Buckingham Palace 
Conference advanced to Six, and the Six Counties 
established as a separate autonomous State. 

Fortunately the dates enable us to fill up with 
tolerable accuracy the gaps in the strange and wonder- 
ful story of the famous " Headings of Agreement " 
arrived at between Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Redmond 
and Sir E. Carson 1 . Inasmuch as it is to that instru- 

1 It was never officially stated that Mr. Lloyd George included 
in his invitations Mr. Dilbn, whom he had the previous day 
referred to in terms of undisguised dislike and contempt, but 
Mr. Dillon himself proudly insisted that he was one of the high 
contracting parties to " The Headings of Agreement." 


ment is unquestionably to be traced the collapse of 
the Parliamentary Movement, and the recognition of 
Partition as the indispensable basis of all negotiations 
for the future, it becomes a matter of high historic 
importance that the circumstances in which it was 
negotiated and under which it was subsequently 
abandoned should be ascertained in some detail. On 
May 31st Mr. Lloyd George was in possession of my 
Memo, containing the suggestion (since " something 
must be done at once ") of a solemn Parliamentary 
Guarantee of National Self-Government for a United 
Ireland on the initiative of the King, to be followed 
by a policy of all-round lenity in the administration. 
To that communication (invited, not volunteered), 
no reply was given. On June 10th, little more than 
a week later, Mr. Redmond was able to call his Party 
together in the Mansion House, Dublin, and to 
announce the " Headings of Agreement " between 
Mr. Lloyd George, Sir E. Carson and himself for the 
surrender of the Six Counties upon terms, open and 
covert, in the highest degree discreditable to the 
British Minister and to the Irish leader. On June 
1 2th, two days afterwards, Sir E. Carson obtained the 
assent of his Ulster Unionist Council in Belfast. On 
June 13th, the next day, a special Convention of the 
Board of Erin Order of Hibernians (not, observe, of the 
public organisation, the United Irish League) was held 
in Dublin, so secretly that no news of the event leaked 
out until the following morning, and no official report 
was issued at all. It was discovered, however, that 
the object of the secret Convention was to secure the 
influence of the Order in extorting the consent of the 
Nationalists ot the Six Counties to the terms under 
which they were to be surrendered to the Orange 
Free State, and this result Mr. Devlin, who, as National 
President of the Board of Erin, occupied the chair, 
succeeded in accomplishing after five hours' dis- 
cussion. Within less than two weeks, therefore, the 
charm was wound up, and the bargain clandestinely 


concluded between the Covenanters and the 
Hibernians, without the slightest pretence of con- 
sulting the country in general, or even the open 
organisation of the United Irish League, whose 
Constitution once proclaimed it to be the sovereign 
National authority in Irish affairs, but which had by 
this time dwindled into the innocuous outward shell 
of the Hibernian Secret Society. 

The double object of Mr. Lloyd George's latest 
coup was to keep America in play by exhibiting before 
her eyes the spectacle of a great Home Rule settlement 
actually accomplished by mutual consent, and to 
keep both the American and the Irish mind bewildered 
as to its terms until the American elections were over. 
It was not for many months afteiwards that either 
America or Ireland began to find out that the new 
bargain was one to expunge from the Home Rule Act 
the Clause that was its saving salt — the establishment 
of a National Parliament — and to amputate from the 
mother country, six counties, illustrious as the scenes 
of her most heroic battles against English conquest, 
and containing all but a fourth of her population and 
wealth. The enormity could, of course, never have 
been perpetrated without the connivance of a Party 
of Irish " Nationalists " who would have been hooted 
into oblivion if they had given the faintest hint of such 
a programme to the constituencies by which they were 

The first deceit practised upon the country was 
that, while Mr. Redmond published through his 
Party on June 10th what purported to be a summary 
of the " Headings of Agreement," the full text was 
not published until seven weeks later (July 28th) after 
the bargain had collapsed, and was published then, 
not by Mr. Redmond or at his desire, but by the 
Government in their own defence. There was a more 
painful discovery still. It was found that the authentic 
text contradicted in its most vital particulars the 
version which Mr. Redmond had been induced to put. 


before the country to calm their apprehensions and to 
manoeuvre them into consent. The two versions of 
the First Article of the Headings of Agreement have 
only to be printed side by side to illustrate the serious- 
ness of the discrepancy. 

Mr. Redmond's The Actual Text. 

i. To bring the Home i. The Government of 
Rule Act into immediate Ireland Act, 19 14, to be 
operation. brought into operation 

as soon as possible after 
the passing of the Bill, 
subject to the modifications 
necessitated by these in- 

The First Article as published in Dublin was one 
well skilled to befool Irish opinion, for it seemed to 
promise the immediate realization of all the hopes 
embodied in " the Act on the Statute-Book. " The 
true text of the bargain, containing the words " subject 
to the modifications necessitated by these instructions " 
put a very different complexion on the transaction, for 
one of " the necessary modifications " was to be the 
repeal of the First Clause of the Act of 1914, viz. : 
" 1. On and after the appointed day there shall be in 
Ireland an Irish Parliament, consisting of his Majesty 
the King and two Houses namely the Irish Senate and 
the Irish House of Commons." 

In other words, the repeal and annulment of the 
solemn recognition of the unity of Ireland as a Nation. 
Nor was the public mind much clarified by Mr. 
Redmond's presentation of the Second Article. 

Mr. Redmond's The Actual Text. 

2. To introduce at once 2. The said Act not 

an Amending Bill, as a to apply to the Excluded 

strictly War Emergency Area, which is to consist 

Act, to cover onlv the of the six counties of 



period of the War and a 
short specified interval 
after it. 

Antrim, Armagh, Down, 
Fermanagh, L'derry, and 
Tvrone, including the 
Parliamentary Boroughs 
of Belfast, Londonderry 
and Newrv. 

Nothing could be less candid or more hazy than 
the published version ; nothing clearer than the actual 
wording, which was not published until all was over. 
To the average plain man, the Amending Bill referred 
to in Mr. Redmond's version might well seem to be 
some innocent detail to cease with the war. He got 
no hint that the genuine Second Article was a proviso 
that the Home Rule Act was " not to apply to the 
Excluded Area," without qualification or termination, 
and the " Excluded Area " was expressly defined and 
earmarked to be six counties and three corporate 
boroughs, containing nearly one-fcurth of the popula- 
tion of Ireland. Some mention had to be made of the 
fate of the Six Counties ; but with how much candour 
may be judged by reading side-by-side Mr. Redmond's 
Article 4 which was Article 3 of the Actual Text. 

Mr. Redmond's 
4. During this war 
emergency period, six 
Ulster Counties to be left 
as at present under the Im- 
perial Government. 

The Actual Text. 
3. As regards the ex- 
cluded area the executive 
power of His Majesty 
to be administered by 
a Secretary of State 
through such Offices and 
Departments as may be 
directed by order of 
His Majesty in Council, 
those offices and depart- 
ments not to be in any 
way responsible to the 
new Irish Government. 


The Six Counties, instead of being " left as at 
present," were in fact to be erected into a separate 
State, ruled by a separate Secretary of State and an 
elaborate series of separate Departments, wholly 
independent of the Home Rule Government in Dublin. 
So far from the arrangement only lasting, as the Irish 
people were jauntily assured " during this war 
emergency," the text contained no hint of such a 
limitation, and the very nature of the complicated 
and expensive machinery of government proposed to 
be set up in the Six Counties forbade any assumption 
of a mere stopgap contrivance to be cast aside after 
the few months in which the war might be concluded. 
Not to the country, nor to the Hibernian Convention 
in Belfast — nor it may be surmised to the rank and 
file of " the Party " itself, was there any disclosure of 
this carefully-elaborated apparatus of Partition vouch- 
safed, until the authorised text of the " Headings of 
Agreement " was published by Mr. Lloyd George 
after the breakdown of the bargain. 

There was another and not less reprehensible 
concealment of the truth. The Third Article in Mr. 
Redmond's summary was : " During that period, 
the Irish members to remain at Westminster in their 
full numbers." At first sight it might well read as a 
concession of the first magnitude. It was, in reality, 
for the politicians, the price of their surrender and it 
was the subsequent partial repudiation of this Article 
by the Government on which the Partition bargain was 
broken off. For what would have been the practical 
effect of the proviso ? It would have established the 
existing members of the Hibernian Party for the rest 
of a Parliament which was not to be dissolved as long 
as the war endured, in the double capacity of members 
of the Imperial Parliament at Westminster, with the 
accompanying Treasury stipend of £400 a year, and 
in addition as the ipso facto majority of the mutilated 
Parliament in Dublin, without re-election, and without 


responsibility to the electors who were already 
hungering for the opportunity of dismissing them 
from their service. They would thus have obtained 
the control of an annual patronage of from £2,000,000 
to £3,000,000 without the smallest danger of being 
brought to account by their constituents for a period 
of at least three years. In the meantime, all the spoils 
of Dublin Castle, of the Four Courts and of the fifty 
Castle Boards, of the University, and of the Inter- 
mediate and Primary School Staffs, and in addition 
all the offices of profit of the local governing bodies 
of three provinces from a Co. Secretaryship or a Town 
Clerkship to the humblest Workhouse portership, 
would have been available for distribution among the 
partisans of the ruling politicians in the Dublin Parlia- 
ment and an army of officials and office-hunters might 
thus be enrolled to garrison the three provinces in 
preparation for the inevitable if far distant day, when 
the Hibernian Bosses would have to seek a renewal of 
their powers. True, the volcano which was presently 
to burst was known to be already deeply burning. 
But the subterranean fires which the corrupt bargaining 
or incompetence of the Parliamentarians was doing 
more than Sir John Maxwell's firing-parties to ac- 
cumulate, might still be held in check a little while 
longer. It was with this knowledge the tying the 
hands and gagging the voice of the constituencies 
while these tremendous changes were being plotted 
was deliberately organized, in order that honest 
opinion should have no chance of showing itself, 
until the country should be confronted with the fait 
accompli, and the Board of Erin Partitionists installed 
in sovereign power. 

All this the only version of the " Headings of 
Agreement " placed before the country carefully 
concealed. It was a scheme of political profligacy 
more widespread in its sweep, more impudent in its 
defiance of all constitutional right or privilege in the 


people, than that by which Lord Castlereagh pur- 
chased the life of the Irish Parliament and which 
Gladstone thought he was not extravagantly describing 
as a system of " blackguardism and baseness." It 
is not to be believed that the mass of the Hibernian 
Party — plain, blunder-headed men— realized much 
better than the bewildered people themselves the 
turpitude of the transaction ; the record stands, how- 
ever, to the shame of their intelligence, if not of their 
political morals, that of the 57 members who attended 
the Party meeting at which the project was disclosed 
all but two accepted the terms which were to be the 
price of their assent to the Partition of their country. 1 

Mr. Dillon's subsequent complaint against the 
Government was that " they did not rush " the 
Headings of Agreement " hot-foot " as a War 
Emergency measure through the House of Commons 
as soon as the nominal assent of Ireland had been 
extorted. He and his confederates were not certainly 
open to any imputation that they did not fcr their own 
part " rush them hot-foot " through Ireland with a 
haste as indecent and unconstitutional as the proposals 
themselves. Under the constitution of the United 
Irish League, a National Convention was the sovereign 
authority in all matters of National policy. No 
National Convention was summoned. It was, of 
course, because no National Convention, however 
sophisticated, could have been trusted to examine 
the text of the " Headings of Agreement " without 
rejecting them with horror. The leaders refused to 
hold consultation in any form with the people of the 
three southern provinces, as though the projected 
mutilation of their nation was no business of theirs. 
The secret organization of the Board of Erin alone was 
called into counsel, while the public organization was 

1 The two dissentient members, to their honour be it 
remembered, were Mr. P. O'Doherty (North Donegal) and Mr. 
P. J. O'Shaughnessy (West Limerick). 


ignored. The Party meeting was held on June 10th. 
We have seen already on June 13th, a special Con- 
vention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (B.O.E.) 
was held in Dublin so secretly that the news did not 
become known until the small hours of the next 
morning and at this gathering the influence of the 
Order was pledged in support of the Lloyd George 
proposals. But even within the ambit of the secret 
Order, a Convention was only to be risked in the six 
surrendered counties, where the ascendancy of the 
Board of Erin was complete. 

The upshot of the secret proceedings of June 13th 
in Dublin was the summoning of a secret Convention 
of the Six Counties on June 23 in Belfast. Although 
this Assembly was ruthlessly policed by the Hibernian 
Order, and the admissions so manipulated as to exclude 
any but a derisory minority belonging to other 
organizations, it taxed the most desperate resources 
of Messrs. Redmond, Dillon and Devlin to conquer 
the instinctive repugnance of these Ulster Nationalists 
to respond to the appeal to stand passively by while 
their country was being cut up on the dissecting table 
under their eyes and by their sanction. Mr. Redmond, 
who presided, found it necessary not so much to offer 
reasons for the surrender as to threaten the collective 
resignations of Mr. Dillon, Mr. Devlin and himself, 
if it were not tamely submitted to. So unnatural was 
the sacrifice demanded that, even amongst the most 
fanatical of the Hibernian faithful, the murmurs rose 
high, until nothing short of the menaces and the tears 
of the leaders could have prevented them from breaking 
bounds altogether. Mr. Redmond, whose only 
sedative for his angry listeners was the pitiful 
assurance that the Partition was to be only of a tem- 
porary character, found his only real argument in 
the solemn threat with which he concluded : 

" It is the duty of a leader to lead, but if my own 
people refuse to follow my lead, I must decline 


absolutely to accept responsibility for a course of 
action that is against my conscience. I regard the 
acceptance of these proposals, in the conditions I have 
stated, as vital to the Irish cause. As leader I point 
the way. It is for you to say whether you will follow 
me or not. If, then, this is the last time that I ever 
can appeal to the people of Ireland, I will have done 
so in obedience to the dictates of my heart and 

It will be observed that his appeal was not " to 
the people of Ireland," but to a secret society in one 
corner of Ireland, and at a secret meeting of which the 
country would have heard nothing, had not a patriotic 
reporter, at the risk of a fractured head, jotted down 
his words. That the lead was not Mr. Redmond's 
lead, the Convention by a sure instinct divined, for 
it was Mr. Dillon whose speech was half-drowned 
with taunts and interruptions identifying him as the 
true author of the unhappy tactics of which Partition 
was the miserable culmination. Mr. Dillon, however, 
continued to protest that " these proposals were a 
necessary measure to safeguard the National Cause " 
and promised to " execute himself," like his trusted 
leader, if the Hibernians thought differently. Even 
Mr. Devlin — and in Belfast he was in a small way 
Coriolanus in Corioli — found the accustomed paean 
of " Up the Mollies ! " changed for an underswell of 
doubt and wrath from Hibernian throats. He, too, 
discovered that the threat of resignation offered the 
only chance of turning the tide and concluded with the 
heroic resolve that " if Mr. Redmond went down, he, 
too, would go down with him." Even faced with 
such an avalanche of leaderless chaos, the most 
reliable Hibernian Assembly that the Hibernian head- 
quarters could furnish could only be induced to do the 
unnatural deed and approve the " Headings of Agree- 
ment " by a majority of 475 votes against 265. It 
was actually on the strength of the sulky majority of 


210 Belfast Hibernians — the only body of Irish opinion 
anywhere that was not sternly denied consultation in 
any shape — that the Parliamentary Party hastened 
to demand that the separation from Ireland of the 
Six Counties should be " hurried hot-foot through the 
House of Commons as a war emergency measure." 




It might well seem there was no further obstacle to be 
apprehended from Ireland. On the day (June 23) 
when the Belfast Convention was being coerced by 
the leaders' threats of resignation, the only public 
protest against Partition attempted in the South — a 
meeting called by my colleague Mr. Maurice Healy and 
myself in the Cork City Hall — was frustrated by the u- 
dicrous misunderstanding already related. The Lord 
Mayor of Dublin refused the Mansion House to Nation- 
alists who proposed to make the indignation of the Irish 
capital heard. But as week followed week and the 
consequences of the bargain began to make themselves 
understood, no machinery of suppression, however 
perfect, could altogether stifle the disquiet which was 
beginning to stir in the heart of the bewildered country. 
On July 20th, the indignation of the Nationalists of 
the North blazed out at a meeting in Derry which 
struck the stoutest of the Partitionists with dismay. 
The speeches sounded like the first volleys of an 
insurrection. They were prefaced by the reading of 
a letter from the Bishop of Derry (Dr. McHugh) 
inveighing against " Mr. Lloyd George's nefarious 
scheme " and adding : 

" But what seems the worst feature of all this 
wretched bargaining that has been going on is that 
Irishmen calling themselves representatives of the 
people are prepared to sell their brother Irishmen into 
slavery to secure a nominal freedom for a section of the 
people. . . . Was coercion of a more objectionable 
and despicable type ever resorted to by England in 


its dealings with Ireland than that now sanctioned by 
the men whom we elected to win for us freedom ? " 

The Derry meeting came to a series of resolutions 
condemning " the proposed partition of Ireland 
whether temporary or permanent " pledging the 
Nationalists of the North " to oppose by every means 
any attempt to set up a separate Government for the 
Ulster counties, " and " to resist the authority of such 
a Government if set up," and summoned the Hibernian 
members for Fermanagh and Tyrone " to oppose 
exclusion or resign their seats." The example of 
Derry was contagious. The Nationalists of Dublin, 
barred out from the Mansion House, ran the risk of 
holding a public meeting in the Phoenix Park — the 
first attempted since the proclamation of Martial 
Law in Easter Week — adopted the Derry resolutions, 
hooted the name of Mr. Lloyd George, and cheered 
to the echo the declaration of their Chairman (Alder- 
man Richard Jones, a man of moderate opinions, who 
had been a steady supporter of Mr. Redmond) that the 
idea of the Cabinet appeared to be to bribe a whole 
Party, and that " if their Parliamentary representatives 
did not respect their wishes, they must insist on their 
resignation." The rising feeling of the nation was 
mirrored in a letter of the Bishop of Limerick (Dr. 
O'Dwyer) to a Committee belatedly formed in Belfast 
to resist the Lloyd George proposals : 

" I can well understand your anxiety and indigna- 
tion at the proposals of your own political leaders to 
cut you off from your own country. I have very little 
pity for you or yours. You have acquiesced in a kind 
of political servitude in which your function was to 
shout the shibboleths of what they call ' the Party.' 
You have ceased to be men ; your leaders consequently 
think they can sell you like chattels. Our poor country 
is made a thing of truck and barter in the Liberal 

It was this unforeseen outbreak of National anger 


which frightened " the Party " into running away from 
its bargain and consigning the " Headings of Agree- 
ment " to the waste-paper basket. The nominal 
excuse for the rupture — a speech of Lord Lansdowne, 
alleging that the separation of the Six Counties was 
not to be a temporary one — was, as will be seen in a 
moment, a wholly untenable one. 1 The history of 
the breakdown is a deeply instructive one. On July 
ioth the Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith) openly avowed 
that the negotiations had proceeded " on the basis of 
immediate Home Rule, with six Ulster counties 
excluded." All his colleagues, he declared, were 
willing to share the responsibility of bringing in a Bill 
to legalise these proposals. It was then, also, he for 
the first time divulged the amazing news that " the 
Irish House of Commons was to consist of the persons 
who were for the time being members returned by 
the same constituencies in Ireland to serve in the 
Imperial Parliament.' ' The Bill was to be a pro- 
visional measure, but he added : " A united Ireland 
could only be brought about with the assent of the 
excluded area." This was a sufficiently clear re- 
pudiation of the assurances lavished in Ireland during 
the previous month that Partition was to be " a purely 
temporary arrangement," but Sir E. Carson took care 
to put an end to the last shadow of doubt on the subject. 
Fastening upon the Prime Minister's allusion to the 
arrangement as provisional, he asked if " the six Ulster 
Counties would be definitively struck out of the Act of 
1914 ? " Mr. Asquith assented and added that " they 
could not be included hereafter without a new Bill." 

1 There was a subsidiary complaint — that in order to placate 
Mr. Walter Long and other Unionist members of the Coalition 
Cabinet, the proviso, maintaining the Irish Members in full 
strength at Westminster, was restricted to Irish Members in the 
existing Parliament only, but as this would still leave the Hibernian 
Party for three years the masters of the Dublin Parliament and 
retain them as paid members of the Imperial Parliament as well, 
the objection was not in itself a serious one. 


Mr. Redmond made no attempt to question the 
Prime Minister's falsification of his own and Mr. 
Dillon's repeated assurances in Ireland, but the 
Hibernian Party, silent in presence of Mr. Asquith's 
official announcement, pounced upon a similar 
announcement by Lord Lansdowne in the House 
of Lords on the following day (July nth) to lay hold 
of that unfortunate nobleman as their scapegoat. 
Lord Lansdowne, in the course of a speech explaining 
the policy which the Government intended to pursue 
during the transition from military rule to the pro- 
jected self-government of the future, mentioned that 
the Amending Bill to give effect to the " Headings of 
Agreement," " will make structural alterations in the 
Act of 1 9 14 already on the Statute Book, and therefore 
will be permanent and enduring in its character, but 
will contain at other points temporary provisions, 
such, for example, as those dealing with the House of 
Commons which it is proposed to set up in the near 
future." The Hibernian Party did not see fit to 
arraign Lord Lansdowne's announcement in the 
House of Commons which there was nothing to 
prevent them from doing by a Vote of Censure, but 
upon the day after the speech (July 12th) Mr. Redmond 
issued a statement to the newspapers furiously de- 
nouncing it " as a gross insult and a declaration of 
war on the Irish people," and declaring that " if this 
speech were to be taken as representing the attitude 
and the spirit of the Government towards Ireland 
there would be an end to all hope of settlement." 
Lord Lansdowne's reference to the " permanent and 
enduring character of certain structural alterations in 
the Act of 1 9 14 " was " a gross breach of faith " and 
" any departure in the direction indicated in Lord 
Lansdowne's suggestion would, so far as we are 
concerned, bring the negotiations absolutely to an 
end." " Valiant words, my masters ! " Lord 
Lansdowne replied the next day (July 13th) : " In 


making my statement as to the permanent character 
of certain provisions of the Amending Bill I did not 
intend to go, and I do not consider that I did go, 
beyond the declaration made by the Prime Minister 
in the House of Commons on the 10th instant that the 
union of the Six Counties with the rest of Ireland could 
only be brought about with, and can never be brought 
about without, the free will and assent of the excluded 

That, of course, was the undeniable truth ; but 
instead of straightly taking the Home Rule Prime 
Minister to task and calling for the publication of the 
text of the " Headings of Agreement " which must 
have decided the question of " a gross breach of 
faith " one way or the other, the leader of the Hibernian 
Party confined himself to an extra Parliamentary dis- 
pute in the newspapers with a Tory nobleman who had 
no friends. An unofficial attempt on the same day 
(July 13th) to elicit in the House of Commons the 
real nature of the bargain was, as always happens in 
such cases, ineffectual : 

" Mr. William O'Brien — When may we expect the 
Irish Amending Bill ? Is the Right Hon. Gentleman 
aware that the Irish people are in a state of utter 
bewilderment as to what the proposals are ? Will he 
put an end to the suspense by producing the Bill at 
the earliest possible date ? " 

Mr. Bonar Law (acting as Leader of the House) — 
I am sorry that at present I cannot give any date for 
the introduction of the Bill. 

Mr. O'Brien— Can the Right Hon. Gentleman 
give no indication when we are to have the Bill if 
ever ? Or if we cannot have the Bill is there any 
objection to publishing as a White Paper the precise 
terms submitted to Sir E. Carson and Mr. Redmond ? 
Surely there cannot be two different versions ? 

Mr. Bonar Law — There may be a difference of 
opinion as to the advisability of adopting that course, 


but I can assure the Hon. Gentleman that it is the 
intention of the Government to produce the Bill as 
soon as possible." 

The Bill was never produced, and the text of the 
" Headings of Agreement " was never disclosed until 
after the rupture. Mr. Redmond's rejoinder to Lord 
Lansdowne (July 14th) was again made through the 
newspapers, not in his place in the House of Commons. 
He repeated that there was a distinct violation of the 
agreement " which was reduced to writing," and the 
matter " could only be cleared up beyond dispute by 
the production of the Bill." One might suggest that 
he himself possessed an equally effective way of 
** clearing the matter up beyond dispute " by pub- 
lishing the full terms of the agreement " which was 
reduced to writing," of which he cannot fail to have 
secured a copy, and of which he had himself made 
public a painfully fallacious version in Ireland. A 
few days later there was not a cough of protest from 
the Hibernian benches when Mr. Asquith having 
again dodged a question of Mr. Ian Malcolm calling 
for the production of the Bill, the present writer 
interposed with the unceremonious inquiry : "Is 
not the Prime Minister yet aware that he would have 
the thanks of every human being in Ireland except the 
place-hunters if he put this hateful Bill into the fire ? " 

As a matter of fact all this belabouring of Lord 
Lansdowne as a whipping-boy in the place of their 
own Home Rule Prime Minister was in the nature of 
theatricals, devised to supply a sensational finish before 
the curtain had to be dropped. What really struck 
death to their souls was that the storm in Ireland was 
every day growing angrier. The end came after 
various alarums and excursions when Mr. Redmond 
moved the adjournment of the House with the object 
of tearing up the " Headings of Agreement " and the 
resulting Bill. He made a fine show of repudiating 
Mr. Asquith 's renewed allegation that even the Home 


Rulers in the Cabinet only agreed that the Home Rule 
Act should be brought into immediate operation on 
condition that the Six Counties " should not be 
brought in except by their own consent and by the 
authority of an Act of Parliament." He repeated that 
after Lord Lansdowne's speech : "I had only one 
resource left open to me and I called for the immediate 
production of the Bill." (He omitted to mention the 
other resource left open to him, which was to call for 
the immediate production of the " Headings of Agree- 
ment " or to produce them himself). What Mr. 
Redmond described as " the sorry story " of his last 
humiliating dealings with the Cabinet on the subject 
deserves to be reproduced in his own words, as a 
warning to all Irish negotiators who may be tempted 
to part with their power of bringing slippery English 
Ministers to their senses : 

" I ask the House to mark what I am now going 
to say. On July 20th I received a most extraordinary 
message from the Cabinet to the effect that the con- 
sideration of this draft Bill had been postponed and 
that a number of new proposals had been brought 
forward. When I asked what the nature of these 
proposals was, I was informed that the Cabinet did 
not desire to consult me about them at all, and that 
they would not communicate with me in the matter 
until they had again met and had agreed upon what 
new proposals they would approve of. ... I asked 
was any new proposal submitted on the question of 
the provisional character of the Bill ? I was told it 
was quite impossible to answer my question. The 
next communication I received was on Saturday last 
when the Minister for War (Mr. Lloyd George) and 
the Home Secretary (Mr. Herbert Samuel) requested 
me to call and see them at the War Office. They 
then informed me that another Cabinet Council had 
been held and that it had been decided — mark you, 
decided — to insert in the Bill two entirely new pro- 


visions, one providing for the permanent exclusion 
of the Six Ulster Counties and another cutting out 
of the draft Bill the provision for the representation 
of the Irish members in full force at Westminster 
during the transitory period, and I was given to under- 
stand in so many words that this decision was not put 
before me for the purpose of discussion or consultation, 
that the decision was absolute and final and the Right 
Hon. Gentlemen described themselves to me as 
messengers without any power or authority to discuss 
these questions in any way whatever with me, and they 
informed me that it was the intention of the Govern- 
ment to introduce a Bill containing these provisions, 
practically whether we liked it or not." 

It was a somewhat heartless return for Mr. 
Redmond's services to his Liberal allies and (it may 
be unfeignedly added) to the Empire, and might well 
deserve an even more heated protest. Unfortunately 
in substance the same decision as to the permanence 
of Partition had been publicly announced by the 
Prime Minister in the House of Commons in his 
hearing more than a month before without a word of 
protest, heated or otherwise. Allowance may be 
freely made for the simple-heartedness with which the 
Hibernian leaders allowed themselves to be over- 
reached by Mr. Lloyd George, and also for the fact 
that they had by this time parted with their power to 
eject from office a Coalition Government which could 
not have been formed without their unconditional 
consent. It was, however, not an altogether unfitting 
punishment of their own want of candour towards 
their trusting Irish countrymen. 

Upon the point that the heads of settlement had 
all along agreed that the Six Counties should not be 
automatically included without the authority of a 
fresh Act of Parliament, Mr. Lloyd George stood 
firm. " The only thing that the Government said now 
and said all along was that this should be made clear 


on the face of the Amending Bill. The rest was a 
dispute about words." He admitted that the heads of 
the settlement had been departed from to the extent 
that the Irish members were not to remain in full 
strength in Westminster beyond the term of the 
existing Parliament, but this was in deference to the 
Unionist members of the Coalition Cabinet who 
declared it would be impossible to get a single member 
of their Party to consent to maintain them in the 
Imperial Parliament after a General Election and after 
a Home Rule Government had been set up in Ireland. 
But until the General Election they would remain, 
both at Westminster and in the Dublin Parliament. 
What he understood from the member for Waterford 
was that he would not merely resist this modification 
but would resist the whole Bill. (Hibernian cheers). 

" If that is the view of the Irish members," Mr. 
Lloyd George concluded, " of course, it would be 
idle for the Government to bring in a Bill for bringing 
Home Rule into immediate operation under any 
conditions. I deeply regret it. ... I still believe 
that the Bill, even with these variations, would be a 
beginning of self-government and liberty for Ireland, 
and from the bottom of my heart I regret that my 
friends from Ireland cannot see their way to accept 
it. They, however, know their own country, its 
difficulties and conditions, and it is for them to decide. 
The Government ought not, and will not, force this 
proposal upon them." 

Sir E. Carson's triumph was complete. Were 
they not playing with words, he asked, in talking about 
" permanence " in connection with the exclusion of the 
Six Counties ? All the permanence that he could get 
or had demanded was that the Six Counties should be 
struck out by this Parliament. If any subsequent 
Parliament (he added with grim irony) desired to put 
them in, it would be open to them to do so. But 
there was one thing more, he proceeded to say : 


" Without going into the terms of the Memorandum, 
I made it perfectly clear that Departments would 
have to be set up in Ulster under the Home Office, 
or some Secretary of State here — Departments in 
every branch of government, from the judiciary down 
to the Post Office, and the different Departments 
which govern Ireland, and I made it quite clear upon 
the face of the document which is relied upon by the 
member for Waterford (the " Headings of Agree- 
ment ") that all these separate Departments were to 
be set up and that no officer or no Department which 
had anything to do with the new Irish Parliament was 
to have any jurisdiction whatsoever of an executive 
character in the Six Counties. Does any body suppose 
that that was set out on the face of the Memorandum 
as a matter that was merely to continue for a few 
months and that then these Six Counties were auto- 
matically to come in ? The thing would be ludicrous. 
You actually set up a whole system of new government 
at enormous expense in relation to the Six Counties, 
and then say that those Six Counties at the end of the 
war or at any time automatically were to come in. 
What would become of your Departments and your 
officers? . . . Therefore the talk of this as provisional, 
if you mean by provisional that it was to stop and that 
the Six Counties were automatically to stop, and that 
the Six Counties were automatically to go back into 
the rest of Ireland, seems to me, on the face of the 
document, absolutely absurd." 

The Prime Minister, he triumphantly concluded, 
had said that the Six Counties could not be included 
without a new Bill and he stood by that agreement. 
Mr. William O'Brien, who followed Sir E. Carson, 
said it was plain that if Mr. Lloyd George had to some 
extent run away from the phraseology of the 
Memorandum, the member for Waterford and his 
friends had, under pressure from Ireland, run away 
from its substance, which was the agreement for 


Partition. He made every allowance for the diffi- 
culties of the member for Waterford, but it did seem 
lamentable that it should have taken all but a second 
Rising in Ireland to convince him how dangerously 
the tide of indignation in Ireland was running against 
this proposal. He had apparently found no resource 
except to pick a quarrel upon any pretext with his 
own agreement, in the hope of extricating his friends 
and himself from their mess by pitiful hair-splitting 
about mere verbal distinctions between the original 
Memorandum and the Government's position to-night. 
" It was too late for the hon. and learned Gentleman 
either to recede or to advance. The one fact con- 
nected with this Memorandum to which the Irish 
people would attach the smallest importance was the 
fact confessed in the whole course of this debate, 
that a majority of their own representatives agreed 
to a separation from Ireland of six of her richest and 
most historic counties and of a fourth of the whole 
population of Ireland under conditions which nobody 
except a quibbler or a fool could represent as tem- 
porary or provisional. " 

In view of the forecast it contained of the course 
of events in Ireland during the following years and of 
the unscrupulous misrepresentation of the speaker's 
efforts from the start to avert a consent to Partition 
which proved to be fatal, some lengthier extracts from 
this speech may be forgiven, the more especially as 
it was suppressed or garbled by the Irish newspapers 
in their usual fashion : 

" I really thought that we had heard the last of 
this miserable plea that the amputation of Ulster from 
the body of Ireland was to be a mere temporary or 
provisional operation. No man in Ireland can be any 
longer gulled by a statement of that kind. The whole 
point is this — that the Irish people have been asked 
to split our ancient nation into two antagonistic states, 
which are specially delimited with a view to collecting 


into each of them the maximum of old religious and 
racial animosities. That is what the great majority 
of the representatives of Ireland bound themselves 
to do when they agreed to the terms of the original 
Memorandum. "The Minister for War (Mr. Lloyd 
George) has repeated to-night what has happened as 
to the kind of Partition really contemplated. Lord 
Lansdowne's speech only brought to the test the 
system of deceit that has been going on in Ireland 
upon the subject for the past two years. The Irish 
people have been shamelessly assured that the moment 
the war was over, the Home Rule Act would come into 
force automatically for all Ireland. That assurance 
was given by gentlemen who heard the Prime Minister 
solemnly pledge himself that it could never be brought 
into operation without an Amending Bill and that any 
notion that Ulster could ever be brought into obedience 
to it by coercion was * absolutely unthinkable.' The 
Minister for War has recalled to-night that, even 
before Lord Lansdowne spoke at all, the Prime 
Minister in this House announced that the Six 
Counties with three great Irish boroughs, should be 
definitely struck out of the Home Rule Act and that 
they could never be replaced except by a new Act of 
the Imperial Parliament. What does that mean ? 
The member for Trinity College is the winner and 
could well afford to be in good humour when he 
pressed for no further guarantees as to permanence. 
He is not depending upon what have been called 
scraps of paper for his guarantees. We are told the 
original Memorandum did not guarantee to Ulster 
permanent exclusion. No, Sir, but did it guarantee 
to Ireland the contrary, that the exclusion would not 
be permanent ? That is the marrow of the question — 
that that agreement would have left Ulster absolute 
mistress of her own future by the consent of both 
parties in this House. But the member for Trinity 
College has a still more solid guarantee, perhaps the 


most solid guarantee of all. He has the guarantee of 
the representatives of Ireland who are prepared — 
* temporarily ' and * provisionally,' of course — 
to exclude Ulster and set her up as a separate State, 
with separate rights and interests and a separate form 
of government — and are pledged furthermore never 
to join in coercing Ulster to give up that privileged 
position. He has the guarantee practically speaking 
of this whole House, except our few selves, that no 
coercion of this kind can ever be attempted without 
a new Act of this House to force Ulster to come in. 
Need I say to any sane man listening to me that such 
an Act is about as likely as that this Imperial Parlia- 
ment should pass an Act forcing the people of London 
to annex themselves to Germany ? . . . It is our 
belief — and this is my answer to the member for 
Trinity College's soft words — that if once Ireland 
were, by the votes of her own representatives, to 
accept her dismemberment, the mischief could never 
be undone except by a bloody revolution. I will not 
in this House make any attack upon the conduct of 
Irish members. This is not the proper venue. The 
proper and the constitutional course would have been 
to send them back to their own constituents — they 
have already exceeded their mandate by more than 
twelve months — send them back to their constituents 
and give the Irish people at least some voice in the 
most tremendous change that was ever proposed for 
our nation — upon an issue which is practically whether 
the Irish Nation is to take her life with her own hands. 
On the contrary, what is your proposal ? In the 
original Memorandum, and even now, you promised 
to relieve these gentlemen for several years from any 
responsibility to their constituents, and I have a strong 
suspicion that one of the principal reasons for the 
breakdown of these negotiations is that the Govern- 
ment have not been able to extend that arrangement 
indefinitely. You may be ashamed of the scheme 


now, but instead of the democratic and constitutional 
way of taking the verdict of the country, you proposed 
something that would really have staggered Pitt or 
Castlereagh. They only proposed to change the site 
of a Parliament from one country to the other, while 
you proposed to give to the same gentlemen a Parlia- 
ment of their own in Dublin and to leave them 
members of this House as well, and that without sub- 
mitting themselves to any judgment by public opinion 
in Ireland. Was there ever such a proposal ? Your 
simple method of constituting an Irish Parliament — 
you democratic and Radical gentlemen — was to 
transfer seventy members of the Party who sit behind 
me from their Party room upstairs to some unburnt 
building in Dublin. Instead of taking the verdict 
of the country, you proposed to set these gentlemen 
up as a sovereign oligarchy over Ireland during a 
reign of at least two and a half years — men elected 
by nobody, but imposed by force upon their fellow 
countrymen, in spite of their indignation and ab- 
horrence. And this caricature of a Parliament, 
nominated by this House, paid £400 a year apiece by 
the British Treasury — even if they are self-denying 
enough to refuse themselves any additional remunera- 
tion for their labours in Dublin — this is the beautiful 
experiment which you have begotten in Martial Law 
and will have to enforce by Martial Law. This is 
what you call making Ireland ' a Nation once again ! ' 
This is what you call fighting the battle of the Small 
Nationalities — by making Ireland a Nationality small 
enough already smaller still by robbing her of her 
richest province ! This plot has broken down, I 
am glad to say, but it will never be forgotten, nor 
forgiven by the Nationalists of Ireland. 

" Proposals of a very different kind have been 
made to the Government which would have appealed 
to the imagination of Ireland and of the United States. 
These proposals — I make bold to say in his presence — 


would have gone nearer to the heart of the member for 
Trinity College, and they would have left Ireland an 
indestructible entity in a Federalist arrangement. It 
is too late to go back upon all that. The work, I am 
afraid, will now have to be left to other men, if not in 
other times. The real cause of the recent rebellion 
in Ireland was not Germanism or German gold. 
It was that you have driven all the best and most 
unselfish of the young men of Ireland to despair of 
the constitutional movement by your bungling, by 
your ignorance, by your doubledealing in this House 
and with the Irish members in reference to the Home 
Rule Act on the Statute Book, and finally by the 
savage methods by which you have for the last six 
months had your vengeance for the Rising. You 
have only succeeded in rilling the hearts of multitudes 
of the best men of our race with a loathing for Parlia- 
mentarianism, British and Irish, and by an inevitable 
reaction from your subservience to one sectarian 
secret society you have raised up another and a more 
formidable secret society whose ideals, at all events, 
are pure and unselfish, and who have proved their 
courage to fight and die like men for these ideals. 
If the mutilated Dublin Parliament you would have 
set up under this agreement could have succeeded in 
anything it could only have been in re-establishing the 
evil ascendancy of that sectarian secret society which 
has been your undoing as well as ours. You would 
have had against you all the men who are teaching the 
young generation by their pens or in their schools and 
all those (and they are to be counted by hundreds of 
thousands) who are ready for any sacrifice of liberty 
or life for the old ideals of Irish Nationality and a 
United Ireland. Luckily for yourselves you have 
broken down in this plot for Partition. If you had 
proceeded, you could not have averted another rebellion 
and you would have lost perhaps for ever the key to the 
heart of National Ireland. You would have handed 


over the future of Irish politics to the Irish Republicans 
and you would have brought us back to the days when 
the quarrel between Ireland and England was regarded 
as incurable and everlasting. Fortunately for 
England as well as Ireland, this particular Partition 
plot at all events is dead and damned to-night and 
millions of the Irish race will rejoice with all their 
hearts to-morrow at its failure." 

Mr. Dillon, who spoke next, went out of his way, 
for some curious reason, to obtrude himself as the 
principal figure in the negotiations, which he admitted 
that " nobody in Ireland liked or pretended to like,'* 
and professed himself still willing to stand " by every 
word of the written document which we have ; 
he added in strange forgetfulness that if they " had 
the written document " in their possession, they had 
never up to this moment published the true terms of 
it to their own countrymen. For the rest, although 
he complained that " assurances were given to Sir 
E. Carson behind our backs which were never given 
to us," he omitted to attack the real culprits, who were 
the Home Rule Prime Minister and the Home Rule 
Secretary for War, and fell back on his old tiresome 
thesis that it was all the fault of the wicked Tory Lord 
Lansdowne. With a not too obvious logic, he com- 
plained that the Government had neglected to give 
the agreement " the only chance it had, which was 
to put it through Parliament hot-foot as a war- 
emergency measure after the Irish Party had obtained 
the consent of the Belfast Convention." In other 
words, that the English Government did not rush 
into law in 191 6 the Partition Act of 1921, before 
the Irish people could have the smallest possibility 
of protesting, or even understanding ! 

Mr. Asquith, who wound up the debate, could 
only administer to Mr. Dillon the cold comfort of 
categorically repeating that Lord Lansdowne only 
repeated his (the Prime Minister's) own statement 


<l in the clearest terms in this House that there must 
be no coercion of Ulster and that the six excluded 
Counties should not be put back by any automatic 
process but only by an express Act of Parliament. 
There was no demur at that," he added, with a 
significant gesture towards the Hibernian benches 
" and I felt entitled to assume that there was general 

At eleven o'clock the motion was suffered to be 
" talked out " without even the melancholy heroism 
of challenging a division. With the bargain for the 
Partition of Ireland, defeated though it was for the 
moment, perished the Home Rule movement of 
Parnell. The " Headings of Agreement," endorsed 
by 75 of the 83 Nationalist representatives of Ireland, 
became the indisputable Magna Charta of Sir E. 
Carson's Six Counties, and to that unhappy instrument 
must be traced the responsibility for all the years of 
disappointment, bloodshed and devastation that were 
to follow. 




Mr. Lloyd George's flirtations with the All-for- 
Ireland policy passed through three phases, each of 
them seemingly favourable to that policy, but all of 
them, whether through ignorance or design, fatal to a 
fair trial of its proposals. He was captivated by our 
concessions to Ulster, and proposed the Buckingham 
Palace Conference to discuss the only concession we 
declared to be inadmissible. He next invited us to 
contemplate with him the splendid phantom of an 
" Irish Provisional Government," and abandoned it 
to fall back upon a Partition Conference even more 
noxious than that of Buckingham Palace. No sooner 
had that manoeuvre also come to grief than he now 
broached a proposal so like unconditional adoption 
of our programme of " Conference, Conciliation and 
Consent " that the mass of our own friends marvelled 
we did not at once embrace it with effusion. It in 
reality perverted our programme of a settlement 
to be sought by a small body of notables, acting under 
the control of a Referendum, into an unwieldy Con- 
vention of politicians discredited and detested by the 
country, and so constituted that it must ineluctably 
eventuate in Partition or in nothing. 

Some months before he had committed himself 
to the new adventure, I made a last attempt to per- 
suade him in what direction lay the true and only road 
of safety. It may be convenient to insert here my 
precis (made, as usual, at the moment) of an interview 
I had with Mr. Bonar Law on March 25th. He had 
complained, in plaintive terms, in the House of Com- 


mons that no Irishman of any section came near him 
or the Government to offer any suggestion since the 
collapse of the " Headings of Agreement " negotiations 
in the previous summer. It may be recollected that 
when in my interview of May, 191 6, with Mr. Lloyd 
George I suggested the advisability of waiting for six 
months of gentleness and appeasement in Ireland 
before attempting a settlement intended to last, Mr. 
Lloyd George foretold that " in six months the war 
will be lost, unless something is done at once." 
Nothing was done and the war was not lost, and 
although Mr. Wilson was elected to the Presidency in 
despite of England's grotesque intrigues to put Mr. 
Roosevelt in his place, Mr. Wilson was on the 
eve of throwing America's broad sword into the scale. 
He was, however, still hesitating, in view of England's 
cat-and-mouse play with Ireland, or we should 
probably have been importuned with no further 
languishings for an Irish Settlement. There was, 
consequently, still the imperious necessity that " some- 
thing must be done at once " and this time we were 
dealing not with a subaltern but with a Prime Minister 
in the saddle for the great stakes of his life, and with a 
Chancellor of the Exchequer only less important, to 
whom as the second of the Triumvirate of which Sir 
E. Carson was the third, Mr. Lloyd George was 
indebted for his triumph over the easy unobtrusiveness 
of his late Chief. So long, therefore, as the faintest 
chance remained of turning to account the lesson 
taught by the discomfiture of the " Headings of 
Agreement " intrigues, I resolved that Mr. Sonar 
Law must not be allowed any right to complain of 
being left without a new insistence upon that advice, 
however unpalatable, of whose soundness the Ministry 
had received a telling confirmation. Of Mr. Bonar Law's 
own straight forwardness, courage and loyalty of charac- 
I had preserved an impression sufficiently warm to 
make communication with him a matter that required 
no finesse. 


25th March, 1919. 

Saw B. L. in Downing Street at eleven o'clock. 
Told him I wanted nothing ; consequently my per- 
sonality might drop out of the controversy. He 
expressed great readiness to hear proposals, saying he 
hoped I might take a more sanguine view than the 
last time. I said time had proved it was better to 
depress him than to mislead him. He said, it was, of 
course, an almost hopeless business. When I pro- 
ceeded to read my proposals, prefacing them by 
saying their basis was that Partition in any shape was 
undiscussable and impossible, he at once broke in : 
" I am afraid anything would be quite impossible for 
Ulster except Partition. I am only now speaking for 
myself. I am to see George presently." I urged 
that, while the difficulty was now infinitely greater 
than it was a few years ago, the attempt to try con- 
cessions to Ulster had never been made, and things 
could not possibly be worse if the attempt failed. He 
intimated that C. and Craig were most willing but were 
certain they would be thrown over in Ulster and that 
Ulster would rebel the moment there was any attempt 
to bring them in. I said that that could only be a 
matter of prophesy which I for one utterly disbelieved. 
But why not bring matters to a test by proposing to Ulster 
some great scheme of concession approved by the most 
enlightened Irish Protestants, North and South, and 
then warmly recommended by the Imperial Con- 
ference ? He could not be got to explain what was the 
difficulty about trying. He fell back upon the same 
arguments in almost the same words he had used last 
year — the question of the two distinct races, etc. I 
pointed out it was not here a question of two races, 
but of three, and that the third (the Presbyterians) 
had been our steady allies up to a few years ago. That 
no difficulty had been found in the South in absorbing 


the Normans, the Adventurers in Sir Walter Raleigh's 
time and the Cromwellians ; that as to the North the 
Protestants had as a matter of fact taken the lead in 
the two greatest Nationalist movements of a century 
ago — the Dungannon Convention and the United Irish 
movement in Belfast ; that if Unionists would only 
read the Unionist Lecky I would defy them to repeat 
there was any unbridgable gulf between the three 
races. He said the United Irish Movement was only 
a phase of the revolutionary movement in France, and 
that the Ulster Dissenters were still above all else 
democrats and would stand no subjection ; that the 
feeling among the gentry in Ulster was much more 
pliable, but that the workmen in Belfast would simply 
hear of nothing. He repeated a remark of his before 
that, to show how completely different the two races 
were, he had gone from Glasgow to Belfast, and it was 
exactly like being in the same city. I remarked that 
was very largely a mere question of accent ; that 
Devlin was almost unintelligible in the South for the 
same reason. His conclusion was so ill-founded that 
it was actually Scotch artisans imported from Glasgow 
that saved Devlin's seat. I read for him my proposals 
and suggestions as to the type of men who might form 
an Irish Conference. He said all would seem ex- 
cellent, if we were dealing with reasoning beings, but 
we are not. I asked was not that giving up all hope 
between the two countries in despair and without even 
making a trial ? I said our people could not fight 
England, but they could worry the life out of her — 
twenty millions of them scattered through America 
Canada and Australia. Pointed out also that if the 
United States came into the war, they would insist 
upon a voice at the Peace Conference, and would 
make Plunkett's policy of Dominion Home Rule 
practical politics, and they would have Ireland's eyes 
turned from this Parliament to the Peace Congress. 
He said the sympathy of America with Ireland had 


become less active of late years, and would be quite 
satisfied if Home Rule were granted to the parts of the 
country that desired it. I said he little knew American 
politicians, if he believed they would not be guided 
by Irish opinion, and the Irish in America far from 
being appeased, would be goaded to madness by any 
division of their country. I pointed out also that it 
was the hope of a peaceful Irish settlement alone that 
had for years tranquillised the Irish in America and 
reduced the Clan-na-Gael influence to as small pro- 
portions as the Sinn Feiners in Ireland until the 
collapse of Parliamentarianism gave them their chance ; 
that if they now found their moderation misunderstood, 
the consequences would be disastrous. He repeated 
that there was no use in arguing with the Ulster men ; 
Heaven only knew what might happen if their men 
came home from the war and found there had been 
any giving way. I reminded him that argument might 
apply with much more seriousness to the Nationalist 
soldiers from Ireland, England and the Colonies who 
were at least five times as numerous as the Ulster 
Unionists. He said although they had pledged them- 
selves to make the attempt, he did not at all know 
whether they would not have to abandon it. He 
intimated that his own notion was to renew the pro- 
posal as to the six counties, with power to any county 
to join the Irish Parliament after five years, if there 
was a majority of even 5 per cent, in favour of doing 
so. That was practically last year's bargain, minus 
a possible reunion of Tyrone after five years. 

I told him I believed as long as the world lasted, 
they could never get the Irish race to tolerate that, or 
any other form of Partition, and that there would be 
absolutely no section of Irishmen at their backs except 
the placehunters ; and no self-respecting Nationalist 
could ever raise his voice again for peace between the 
two countries ; that the universal impression would 
be that such a proposal would not be a genuine 


attempt at a settlement, but only intended to throw 
dust in the eyes of the Americans in order to bring 
them in. We got talking over the general situation. 
I explained to him the difference between the 
Republican fighting party which I believed to be 
still comparatively small and the sentiment of Sinn 
Fein, which included the best part of the uncorrupted 
portion of the country. He said they had no leaders. 
I said in the sense of politician leaders that was true — 
that, if they had leaders of more acute political 
intelligence, the constitutional movement would by 
this time be reconstructed and be a greater force than 
ever and the Easter Week Rising would never have 
taken place. He said the fact appeared to be that 
nobody had any power at present of getting any 
settlement enforced. I agreed that that was lamentably 
true, but might be remedied if some great agreement 
by consent was once put before the country by Irish- 
men who were not professional politicians, and if in 
this way new men and younger men were attracted 
into the country's service ; but this could only be done 
if the Government pledged themselves to see an Irish 
settlement by consent resolutely through, no matter what 
any set of politicians did. Obstructionists could never 
face a General Election if we got thus far. He told 

me one of my most important friends, had given 

him to understand that Redmond's party would come 
back from a General Election with no greater loss than 
10 or at most 20 seats. This estimate seemed to have 
made a most unfortunate impression upon him. 
Electoral calculations are the morals of Ministers. I 
replied that it would be idle to prophesy in a state of 
anarchy such as now prevailed, but my own forecast 
was a very different one indeed. I could not see how 
more than ten of them could come back, even if the 
Bishops should deem it prudent to renew their doubled 
subscriptions in support of them. He asked what 
about the Bishops — did they really desire a Home 


Rule settlement at all ? — did they really want Catholics 
and Protestants to come together ? I replied that I had 
no means of judging their inmost thoughts ; I doubted 
whether they themselves quite knew where they stood ; 
but if there was any foundation for the suggestion that 
they did not desire Home Rule, it was surely a good 
argument with Irish Unionists that their power in an 
Irish Parliament was not likely to be so overwhelming 
as they sometimes apprehended. Of one thing he 
might make quite sure — that not even Dillon's one 

fast friend among them, Dr. would ever publicly 

pin himself to any Partition proposal however plausible. 
We talked matters over for an hour and a half. He 
asked for my written proposals and suggestions for 
Conference, and said he was to see L. G. shortly 
after and would submit them. 

To the end he seemed obstinately of opinion, it 
must be Partition or nothing ; but spoke with great 
hopelessness of that and of the war, and as he 
accompanied me to the hall-door said it would perhaps 
be better to do nothing, if they would be satisfying 
nobody. I said better nothing than mischief. 


mr. lloyd george's " irish convention " 

Mr. Lloyd George's new expedient for the 
pacification of Ireland, and his last before he called 
in " the Black-and-Tans " was marked by his 
characteristic defects as a statesman. It was 
improvised, it was uncandid, and it was open to 
be changed into something quite different at a 
moment's notice. So open to change, that the new 
programme which he unfolded in a circular public 
letter to Mr. Redmond, Sir E. Carson and myself, 
contained two self-contradictory proposals for a 
" deal," one of which was dropped without a word 
of explanation, when the other was first mentioned 
in the House of Commons : — So sly as to raise the 
suspicion among plain men that it was not framed 
for Ireland at all, but as the only means of conquering 
America's last hesitation about entering actively into 
the war. For the main achievement for which his 
" Irish Convention " will be remembered was that the 
injunction to "go on talking " was elaborately kept 
up for eight months, until President Wilson made up 
his mind for his invasion of Europe, and the assembly 
of talkers was then quietly bundled out of notice. 

The chances are that Mr. Lloyd George was 
neither so good nor so bad as he seemed from opposite 
angles. A politician whose main business it was to 
win the war, his first concern was to corral the 
Americans ; but he would doubtless have honestly 
welcomed an Irish Settlement on its own merits, as 
a by-product — as, so to say ; a Mesopotamian excursion 


from his Flanders front. The first plan disclosed in 
his invitation to Mr. Redmond, Sir E. Carson and 
myself in May, 1917, was frankly a Partitionist one : — 
it was to revive the old " Headings of Agreement " and 
to put the Home Rule Act into operation forthwith in 
26 counties, on condition of the remaining six being 
expressly excluded, a " National Council " of derisory 
powers being added by way of keeping up diplomatic 
relations between the two rival Irish States, in order 
to save the face of the Hibernian Partitionists. This 
scheme, it cannot be doubted, would have been closed 
with by Mr. Redmond, as he had closed with the 
" Headings of Agreement," had not the recent progress 
of Sinn Fein daunted the hearts of his Party. In the 
February of that year Count Plunkett, father of one 
of the leaders executed for his part in the Rising of 
Easter Week, had been returned for North Roscommon 
by a startling majority. Again a week before Mr. 
Lloyd George launched his new offer another leader 
of the Easter Week Rising, then in penal servitude, 
was returned by a narrow majority for North Longford, 
up to that time considered an impregnable stronghold 
of Hibernianism. Had the majority of 37 been turned 
to the other side, the first offer of the Prime Minister — 
that of Partition, naked and unashamed — would have 
been eagerly grasped at by the Hibernians, whose last 
chance of existence now depended upon getting hold 
of the power and revenues of their three-quarter 
Parliament before the rising tide should overwhelm 
them. But more intimidating than the figures at any 
individual election was the letter published on the 
eve of the polling from Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of 
Dublin — since the death of Dr. Croke, much the most 
influential Churchman in the political counsels of 
Irishmen — in which he made the memorable pro- 
nouncement that, to his knowledge, " the cause of 
Ireland had been sold " — a letter which, if it were 
published in time to reach the mass of the electors 


must have turned the defeat of the Hibernians into a 
panic-rout. Mr. Redmond made no disguise of the 
fact that it was because he knew that " in my opinion 
it would find no support in Ireland," that he set aside 
in a sentence the first of Mr. Lloyd George's alternative 
schemes, and wished with all his heart it could be 

The second was more plausible and on a first 
inspection seemed to concede the main points the 
All-for-Ireland League had long been struggling for. 
It was that " a Convention of Irishmen of all creeds 
and parties " should assemble to draft a Constitution 
for their country, the only limitation imposed upon 
their powers being that it must be " a Constitution 
for the better Government of Ireland within the 
Empire," and the Prime Minister pledged the Govern- 
ment to carry into law any proposals of the Convention 
which might secure " the substantial agreement " of 
its members. What could look franker, more generous 
or more confiding ? Many even of the most sober- 
minded of our own friends were transported with joy. 
Great was their amazement when, after much 
pondering, I felt compelled to decline the invitation 
to participate in a project which seemed to be the 
official adoption of the solution of the Irish problem 
by Irishmen themselves, and its enactment by the 
common consent of every English Party, which we 
had never ceased to press without giving way before 
outrage or ridicule. " Is not this the triumph of 
all you have been contending for ? " it was impulsively 
urged. " What more can you desire ? " Sore was 
the bewilderment when the reply came : " What alone 
I or you desire is an Irish Conference which shall 
have a chance of success. Constituted as Mr. Lloyd 
George proposes to constitute it, this Conference (or 
as he prefers to call it ' Convention ') cannot possibly 
arrive at any agreement except one for Partition, and 
consequently what seems nominally a compliance 


with our programme can lead to nothing except the 
certainty of defeat for all we have been striving for." 
The truth was that the apparent contradiction between 
the Prime Minister's two proposals was only on the 
surface. He gave up the first — that of undisguised 
Partition — for Mr. Redmond's brutally opportunist 
reason, that " the people would not stand it," thus 
nakedly stated ; but he only gave it up to carry it 
more surely into effect by means of an " Irish Con- 
vention," overwhelmingly composed of pledged 
Partitionist politicians, " Nationalist " and Unionist, 
which must either agree to Partition, or disagree 
altogether, and thus throw the blame for a failure upon 
Ireland herself in the eyes of the Allied Powers. 

All this is plain enough now, but was so little 
understood at the time by a public condemned to a 
carefully organised ignorance of the truth that it 
required some strength of mind to resist the temptation 
of a war-weary country to grasp at peace at almost any 
price. In the event, it was this Convention which 
led unavoidably to the Partition Act of 1920, with all 
the far-reaching calamities that followed it. Its 
history is therefore as absorbingly interesting as it 
is up to the present unknown. My own decision was 
not hastily taken. To Mr. Lloyd George's first 
invitation I made the following friendly reply : 

" London, May 17th, 1917. 

" Dear Mr. Lloyd George, — In reply to your letter 
of yesterday afternoon, I have no difficulty about 
giving for the information of the Cabinet the view of 
my friends and myself as to your Irish proposals. I 
have already repeatedly declared myself unalterably 
opposed to any scheme of Partition, and therefore 
need not discuss the suggestion for its revival in a 
Government Bill. As to the alternative suggestion for 
a Convention or Conference of Irishmen of all classes 
and creeds to draft a Constitution for Ireland, my 


friends and myself are, of course, prepared to give a 
hearty support to the Government in giving effect to 
a principle we have so long contended for, subject to 
the discussion of details on Monday next. 
Sincerely yours, 

William O'Brien." 

" On Monday next " (May 21) when the Prime 
Minister laid his proposals formally before the House 
of Commons, he dropped altogether the offer to put 
the Home Rule Act into operation forthwith in the 26 
counties, and he abstained from giving any detailed 
information as to the constitution of his " Irish Con- 
vention." In my remarks, accordingly, I extended 
a sympathetic, though necessarily guarded, welcome 
to that portion of his project, but could not avoid 
pointing out that Partition still lurked ominously in 
the background and warning the Government against 
any such composition of the Convention as might give 
rise to the suspicion that it was to be dominated by the 
nominees of Parties already committed by their 
adhesion to the " Headings of Agreement." The 
warning was made imperative by the speech of the 
leader of the Ulster Party, Sir John Lonsdale, pro- 
claiming that Partition could be the only basis of the 
" substantial agreement " to which Mr. Lloyd George 
pledged himself to give legislative effect, and by the 
further speech of Mr. Redmond adumbrating a plan 
(which was subsequently adopted) by which the bulk 
of the Convention would consist of delegates from the 
Corporations and County Councils of Ireland — almost 
all partisans of his own — who had been allowed 
already, owing to the war, to outstay their mandate 
from their constituents by two years and who were so 
notoriously at variance with the new spirit in the 
country that, as soon as the country was allowed, it 
swept them bodily into oblivion. In the friendliest 
spirit, I urged our own conviction that success was to 


be found, not in any large, unwieldy and unrepre- 
sentative assembly of partisans, but in a small group 
of ten or a dozen Irish notables commanding general 
respect, and depending for a Democratic sanction to 
their proceedings upon a proviso that any agreement 
of theirs must be submitted straightaway to a Referen- 
dum of the electorate of all Ireland. My observations 
wound up with a warning to which the course of 
subsequent events gave some significance : 

" What I want the House to mark is that you have 
never yet tried either of the measures I have suggested. 
You have never called the whole electorate of Ireland 
into consultation upon a definite scheme, agreed to by 
Irishmen commanding general confidence. You have 
never offered any concession to Ulster except one 
which would call upon us with our own hand to take 
the very life of our motherland as a nation. ... If 
you break down now — I pray you not to delude your- 
selves — you will not kill the Irish Cause, but you will 
kill any reasonable chance for our time of recon- 
structing the Constitutional Movement upon an honest 
basis. You will kill all Irish belief in this House or in 
any Party within it. You will set up the right of 
Rebellion, whether for the Covenanters or the Sinn 
Feiners as the only arbiter left in Irish affairs. You 
will justly make Parliamentary methods even more 
despised and detested than they are at the present 
moment by the young men of Ireland." 

Once more the Government purchased the support 
of the Hibernian Party by following their fatal advice. 
It became known at once that the Convention was to 
be little better than a mob of Hibernian partisans, 
and its success — if its success, on any after basis but 
Partition, had ever really been desired by its projector — 
was about to be compromised from the start. Upon 
the following day, while there was still a hope of 
averting the utterly unconstitutional constitution now 
designed for the Convention, I willingly acceded to the 


proposal of the Chief Secretary, Sir Henry Duke, for 
an interview upon the subject. My note of our 
conversation, taken down at the time, will best explain 
what happened between us : 

May 22, 1917. 
T. M. H. called to say Duke was anxious for an 
interview with me. Saw him after questions in his 
own room. He was profusely kind and even de- 
ferential. I said I had doubtless said a good deal last 
night that was disagreeable to him and his friends, 
but that it was one of our vices as a race, to be tempted 
to say things that they thought would be agreeable to 
strangers rather than to warn them of unpleasant 
realities. He said of course one was bound to face 
the facts and they were not cheerful. After a good 
deal of solemn peroration not coming to any particular 
point, he came to the real object of the interview. He 
first asked whether I had any suggestion to make as to 
the chairman of the Convention. I told him I did 
not think it mattered a farthing until he had first 
settled whether it was to be a big Convention or a 
small Conference ; for I was absolutely convinced 
the big miscellaneous gathering would end in a fiasco, 
with the result that especially after L. G.'s admission 
last night that this was not an Irish measure but a war 
measure, Irishmen would be sure to suspect that the 
object was to submit this question nominally to Irish- 
men under conditions they knew must fail, and then 
inform the Americans the blame lay on the Irishmen 
themselves. He shook his head and made various 
solemn gestures, but could only be got to say that so 
far as he and those immediately connected with him went 
there was certainly no design to pack the Convention 
so as to make it fail. I said nobody would suppose him 
guilty of so diabolical a plot as deliberately packing it, 
but they ought to know the Ulster Unionist Council 
would make Partition the first business of such a 
gathering and would if beaten withdraw, and that on 


the other hand if the Redmondites were the kind of 
nominees of local boards R. suggested last night, they 
might in their desperation agree to some plausible 
scheme of Partition which would save the situation 
for the placehunters, but would be resisted by the 
country in a way that would never make it possible 
to assemble such a Parliament, in addition to all the 
other troubles that would be inevitable in a time of 
such intense popular passion. He made a statement 
which had a disagreeable ring intimating that the 
Government would take care that no violent persons 
would be among the nominees. I said that might 
only discredit the Convention altogether, even before 
it sat. He put to me the question would I be willing 
to take part in the Convention or at least ask my friends 
to take part ? I replied that that was an hypothetical 
question — that before answering it I should want to 
know first in what spirit the Ulster Unionist Council 
would agree, if they agreed at all, to take part, and 
then how the Convention was to be constituted. He 
proceeded to give me particulars of the proposed 
constitution. First he said there was to be the sub- 
stratum which was to be composed of the Chairmen 
of County Councils, Mayors of Corporations and 
delegates of other local representative bodies ; next 
representatives of the Labour Councils and next of 
both orders of Teachers. I told him at once, as I had 
told him the previous night, that the first group of 
bodies would constitute it straightaway a packed 
Convention in the Redmondite sense ; that the great 
majority of these bodies are Hibernian nominees, who 
owed to the Mollies their election and their titles as 
magistrates and innumerable other jobs for their 
relatives and themselves ; that they repaid them with 
salvoes of votes of confidence in " the Party " ; that 
these Boards had long exhausted their mandate and 
were so wholly out of touch with the present feeling 
of the country that they would lose their seats whole- 


sale if they were obliged to face their constituents ; 
and that any decision founded on the votes of such 
men, most of them Partitionists, would be received 
with a shout of ridicule or indignation in the country. 
He made no attempt to reply, but said that was only 
the substratum. The next stratum was the clergy 
of all denominations. What they proposed was to 
ask the Bishops to select the priests who were most 
suitable and the same with the Church of Ireland and 
the Presbyterians. I said I was sorry to be obliged 
again to throw cold water, but the truth notoriously 
was that the priests were divided into two categories, 
the old priests and the young ; that the Bishops would 
inevitably choose the graver dignitaries, and leave out 
in the cold the young priests who sympathised with 
the Sinn Feiners, and who could easily rouse the 
country against the Convention. He agreed that this 
was so, but seemed to have no alternative. Finally, 
he proposed that the upper stratum, from which 
he hoped leaders that would direct the Convention 
in a wise way would develop, would consist of a certain 
small number of M. P.s chosen by each of the three 
Irish Parties, a small number of Irish peers, and a 
certain number whom the Crown reserved the right 
of nominating. In the beginning he mentioned with 
a knowing look : " Enough has not been made of the 
provinces. After all the provinces are great historical 
divisions." " Yes," I said, " unfortunately the causes 
of great historical divisions." 

He returned to the question of the Chairmanship 
of the Convention on which he said everything might 
depend. I asked him to forgive me for pointing out 
that he was putting the car before the horse ; that he 
was rather thinking of small things about the Con- 
vention itself than of the possibility of an Agreement 
from any Convention so constituted, and that what he 
had told me had confirmed me in the conviction that 
from such a Convention nothing could be expected 


except a breakdown or some partition compromise 
which the country would reject with fury. The only 
chance of success, such as it was, lay in following the 
precedent of the Land Conference. Then the land- 
lords' official organisation — the Landowners' Con- 
vention — like the official organisation of the Ulster 
Unionists scoffed at the first proposal of the Land 
Conference and they by an overwhelming majority 
refused to take part in it. Dunraven appealed over 
their heads to the mass of the landlords, with the 
result of success and a warm vote of thanks from the 
Landowners' Convention to the Conference they had 
refused to join. In the same way we would appeal 
to the sense and interest of the bulk of the unofficial 
Unionists. If a satisfactory agreement was reached 
it should be submitted to the whole people of Ireland 
by Referendum and if accepted should be passed into 
law on the responsibility of the Government. Therein 
lies the one path to success instead of asking two of my 
friends to begin with a hopeless protest against Partition, 
in opposition to two bodies of politicians inexorably 
committed to it beforehand. D. listened with deeper 
interest, intimated there would be no difficulty about 
a Referendum and before we parted dropped the 
remark : " The Landowners' Convention passed a 
vote of thanks to the Land Conference. The Ulster 
Unionist Association may pass a vote of thanks to the 
new one." He asked me for my list of suggested 
Conference and suggested basis of settlement and asked 
me to see him again. I also insisted upon a Sinn Fein 
representative, suggesting either Griffith or John 
MacNeill if he and his brother prisoners were first 
released. He dropped a singular remark apropos of 
the Sinn Feiners— " We may have to fight them." 
I said : " If you do, God help you and all of us." 
He threw up his hands with a gesture of dis- 

I find appended to this Memo, a note dated May 
24, 1917 : 


As I was passing through the Division Lobby, on 
the second reading of the Franchise Bill to-night, Sir 
J. Lonsdale overtook me and agreed that if there was 
any chance at all, it would be through a small Con- 
ference. The bigger body, if it ever came together, 
was sure to be abortive. I urged him to make a final 
attempt, remarking : " I have no longer much personal 
interest in the matter, but, believe me, unless some- 
thing can be done now, those who come after us will 
have reason to rue it." He said with very sincere 
feeling : " Whatever comes, you have fought for 
your country better than any other man in this House." 
Ronald McNeill came up as we were conversing, and 
said : " Are you converting William O'Brien, John ? " 
Lonsdale replied (again spoken with real feeling) : 
" No, O'Brien has very nearly converted me." 
McNeill said : " You were right in saying it would 
have been easy enough to pull things through five 
years ago." " It is a pity," I remarked, " you Ulster 
gentlemen did not then do more to help me." " You 
gave the answer in your own speech," he replied, 
" you were only 7 to 70. After the treatment you 
received yourself, how could you expect Ulstermen to 
put themselves under the heel of a man like Dillon 
who at a moment like this accuses us of being in 
conspiracy with a German spy ? " " Dillon would be 
a very unimportant man to-day," I said, " if you had 
taken a different course." " Anybody is good enough 
to stick a knife into an open wound," was his reply. 
While we were conversing, Birrell passed us like a 
spectre, looking so dreary. 

Before we parted, the Chief Secretary' asked me 
to supply him with the names of those likely to be 
found effective members of the Conference of Irish 
notables which I contemplated. I sent him the 


subjoined panel, not as one to be rigidly adhered to, 
but as including types of the kind of Irishmen, high- 
minded, tolerant and representative of the finest Irish 
qualities, whose deliberations were likely to bear fruit : 

1. The Lord Mayor of Dublin (Aid. O'Neill). 

2 and 3. The Catholic and Protestant Archbishops 
of Dublin. 

4. The Marquess of Londonderry. 

5. The Earl of Dunraven. 

6. Gen. Sir Hubert Gough. 

7. Major William Redmond, M.P. 

8. Viscount NorthclifTe. 

9. Mr. William Martin Murphy. 

10. Mr. Arthur Griffith. 

11. Mr. Hugh Barrie, M.P. 

12. Professor Eoin MacNeill. 

The list was drawn up without previous con- 
sultation with any of the individuals named, and would 
have then seemed to the general public a daring one ; 
but the prudence of the choice has so successfully 
borne the test of time that few would now dispute that 
had a dozen such men been brought together, when 
first suggested, several years before, or even then at 
the half-past eleventh hour, they would not have 
separated without arriving at a memorable National 
Agreement. Two of the Northern representatives 
suggested — Lord Londonderry and Mr. Hugh Barrie 
— were among the three Ulster representatives named 
on the Committee of Nine which brought the one 
gleam of hope that visited the proceedings of the 
Convention. Lord NorthclifTe whom I had never 
met was at the time Mr. Lloyd George's closest con- 
fidant. His great paper was one of the most powerful 
of the dynamic forces that won the war. That his 
influence would not have been misused is clear enough 
from a note of his dated 30th April, 1917, on the 
occasion of a previous essay of mine in the same 
direction : 


" Dear Mr. O'Brien, — Your letter reached me 

Curiously enough I was discussing this very matter 
with Sir Edward Carson yesterday afternoon. I do 
not believe that I should be a welcome member of 
any such Conference. I have been violently criticised 
in Ulster. But I do believe that an Irish Conference 
of strictly Irish people is one of the means towards 
a settlement. Very few English people understand 
Irish people. Yours very truly, 


Another singular success was the choice of General 
Hubert Gough. I had never met him or been in 
communication with him in any way. He was only 
known in Ireland as the leader of " the Curragh 
Mutiny," and my suggestion of him as an apostle of 
National Peace would have been once grasped at by 
the malicious as an unheard of act of traitorism, and 
even by the worthiest would have been received with 
head shaking and silence. All I knew was that he 
had come of a gallant and genial line of Irish soldiers ; 
that the part he had taken at the Curragh would give 
him an indisputable title to be heard with respect in 
Ulster ; and that with a no less gallant and no less 
genial Irish soldier like Major " Willie " Redmond 
he would have supplied an irresistible soldierly argu- 
ment for Irish peace. How true was my intuition 
may be judged by an extract from a letter General 
Gough wrote me years afterwards (February 13, 1921), 
when he first heard of the liberty I had taken with his 
name : 

" It was absolute news to me to find that you had 
mentioned my name as far back as May, 1917, as one 
of those who might arrive at some sane solution for 
the government of our unhappy country, and I must 
say how very broadminded I think it of you to have 
put forward such an idea. However much I may feel 
my own incapacity for dealing with such a question, 


I can at least be confident that I would never have 
adopted the present bloody and repressive methods 
which are being so brutally employed in Ireland 
to-day. However, I do not suppose anything could 
have been devised to unite all Irishmen more closely 
and in more real sympathy. The terrible misfortune 
is that this real sympathy among Irishmen is being 
brought about by means which can only raise antipathy 
and hate between Irishmen and Englishmen. I can 
see no light at present and it is distressing to feel one 
is deprived of all power to alter things." 

Mr. Duke left upon my mind the impression of a 
man convinced of the unwisdom of the proposed 
composition of the Convention, but powerless to alter 
it. One other auspicious opportunity offered of 
reconsidering the matter before it was too late. No 
sooner did the Government plans get abroad than the 
Sinn Fein Executive in Dublin passed a resolution 
unanimously rejecting Mr. Lloyd George's invitation 
to be represented by five nominees of Sinn Fein. 
Perceiving by the wording of the resolution that their 
decision applied to the outrageously unrepresentative 
character of the contemplated assemblage, and not 
to some more broadly conceived Irish settlement by 
Irishmen in Ireland, I at once telegraphed to Mr. 
Arthur Griffith, the founder of the Sinn Fein move- 
ment, and at that time (owing to the internment of 
Mr. De Valera and his chief fighting men in English 
prisons) the virtual leader and director of Sinn F6in 
affairs in Ireland : 

" London, May 23. 

" Confidential. May I ask does your objection 
to a big Convention bound to end in fiasco or Partition 
extend to a Conference of a dozen genuinely repre- 
sentative Irishmen whose agreement, if any, would be 
submitted to people of all Ireland by Referendum ? " 

His reply was : 


" Dublin, May 23. 

" I should be willing to state my views to a Con- 
ference of Irishmen. Absolutely reject Convention." 1 

Taking the offer to be one of moment, I com- 
municated it without an hour's delay to the Chief 
Secretary, urging that it would ensure the participation 
in genuine Peace negotiations of the Irish Party of the 
future and expressing my own confidence that the 
co-operation of responsible men of the highest in- 
telligence of the stamp of Mr. Griffith and Professor 
Eoin MacNeill would be found to be of priceless 
advantage. I did so, although I had just been hearing 
news which satisfied me that the Cabinet's mind was 
made up against us : 

Hotel Windsor, 

May 24, 1917. 
Private. — 

Dear Mr. Duke, — From all I hear, it is useless 
to hope to dissuade your colleagues from the so-called 
" Irish Convention " they have resolved upon. 

I consider it, however, a duty to send you enclosed 
telegrams which passed between Mr. Griffith and 
myself yesterday. His reply proves that it would 
be still possible to secure the co-operation of the 
immense mass of Irish opinion represented, though 
very vaguely, by the sentiment of Sinn Fein. 

All that, however, seems now given up, and I am 
afraid the great body of Irish Nationalists will be left 
no escape from the conclusion that the proposed 
Convention will be held for Anglo-American war 
purposes and upon lines which are bound to aggravate 
instead of composing the present troubles. 

I shall be much obliged if you will kindly return 
me the suggestions as to the personnel and basis of 

1 It was stated by Mr. Michael Collins in 1922 that Mr. Griffith 
laid down conditions. He did not do so in any communication 
with me. 


settlement of an Irish Conference on the Land Con- 
ference model, which I gave you on Tuesday. 

Yours very faithfully, 

William O'Brien. 
Rt. Hon. H. Duke, M.P. 

P.S. — Mr. Healy has a suggestion for a preliminary 
" Conference " to draw up a programme for the 
" Convention," if the Government still persists in 
having one. He, like myself, however, thinks it 
useless to persist in the face of the attitude of the 
Government. — W. O'B. 

Mr. Duke's only reply — one of pathetic helpless- 
ness — was this : 

" Irish Office, 

" Dear Mr. O'Brien, — I enclose, herewith, the 
two documents which you kindly entrusted to me. 

Yours truly, 

H. E. Duke." 




Sinn Fein was thus ruled out of the programme of 
a Government which had to wait for the lessons of 
years of bloodshed and horror to appreciate the value 
of the patriotic offer which Sir H. Duke was compelled 
almost rudely to repulse. It is impossible to believe 
that Mr. Lloyd George had not the Griffith telegram 
before him when he shot his bolt defining the member- 
ship of his Convention in a way which he knew must 
render the collaboration of Sinn Fein and of the All- 
for-Ireland League impossible. He had made up his 
mind to cast in his fortunes with the Hibernian and 
with the Ulster Partitionists. 

A characteristic stroke of the small politicians, 
British and Irish, followed. The Hibernian leaders, 
accustomed to rely upon petty Government doles and 
favours as a means of concealing their failure in great 
things and lost to all power of diagnosing the new 
spirit they were dealing with, came to the conclusion 
that their best hope of rehabilitating themselves with 
the country, and, in the cant of the day, of " creating 
a friendly atmosphere " for " the Irish Convention 
was to advise an Amnesty for the Sinn Fein internees. 
Accordingly, when an evening or two afterwards I 
went over to Dublin, to make a last effort with Sinn 
Fein before announcing my own decision as to Mr. 
Lloyd George's invitation, it was to see Mr. De Valera 
and his interned fighting men — some four thousand 
of them— flocking over by the Holyhead boat to the 
frantic joy of a country that not unnaturally received 
them as conquerors. Be it remembered that up to 


that time the Irish Republic had no existence of any 
kind, even in name. The utmost length to which the 
first Sinn Fein Convention of five hundred delegates 
in Dublin in the early part of 19 16 went was a 
resolution : " That we proclaim Ireland to be a 
separate nation " — as Mr. Lloyd George did a few 
years afterwards. Neither Count Plunkett's election 
for North Roscommon, nor Mr. McGuinness' for 
North Longford had been fought on the Republican 
issue. It was not until a few days after his return to 
Ireland from his English prison that Mr. De Valera 
for the first time made the Irish Republic the electoral 
touchstone of the future. Any other programme had 
now, however, been wiped off the slate by Mr. Lloyd 
George's own hand. When Mr. Griffith did me the 
favour of calling upon me at the Shelbourne Hotel, 
the streets outside were throbbing with the rejoicings 
for the returning fighting-men. With all Mr. Griffith's 
moral courage — and it was dauntless — there was 
obviously no more to be said for peace. The Amnesty 
which must have followed as a matter of course once 
a genuine National agreement was arrived at, was now 
justly despised as a mere Hibernian electioneering 
trick. Its only effect was to convince the Irish people 
— even those who were most reluctant to own it — 
that the fighters of the Easter Week dispensation were 
the only men to deal with shifty British Ministers. 
Sinn Fein in its most militant shape was rooted more 
firmly than ever as the best hope of a country which 
had already irrevocably sentenced Parliamentarianism 
to die the death. 

Not for the first, nor the tenth time, Mr. Lloyd 
George failed to see the " fundamentally right " thing 
and did the obviously wrong one. No sooner was the 
composition of the Convention disclosed than it 
became evident it must end in Partition or throw the 
blame for its abortiveness upon Ireland. Of the 101 
members 80 at the lowest estimate were Partitionists 


of the Hibernian Party or of the Orange Party. The 
representation accorded to the political parties — 5 
delegates apiece to the Hibernian Party, the Ulster 
Party and Sinn Fein, 2 to the All-for-Ireland League 
and 2 to the Irish Labour Party — was on the face of 
it a perfectly fair one. It in reality covered a gross 
deceit. The Hibernian Party, with a nominal repre- 
sentation of only 5, obtained some 70 representatives 
through the Mayors of Corporations and the Chairmen 
of County Councils and District Councils, nearly all 
the direct nominees of the Board of Erin ; the Ulster 
Party, technically restricted to 5 representatives, 
numbered 20 at the least through the delegates from 
the Unionist County and District Councils and the 
nominees of the Crown. These two Parties com- 
bined, counting a majority of something like 8 to 1 of 
the entire body, were publicly committed to a Par- 
tition agreement if there was to be any at all. Into 
this Partitionist sea, the five Sinn Feiners and the two 
All-for-Ireland representatives were to be precipitated, 
rari nantes in gurgite vasto, with whatever help they 
might receive from four known opponents of Partition 
who were included among the direct nominees of the 
Crown. Worse remained behind. Sir E. Carson, 
the only person who could operate any change of 
front from the Ulster side, held personally aloof from 
the Convention, and the participation of his Party 
was made expressly subject to the condition that their 
five representatives at the Convention were to agree 
to nothing without first obtaining the approval of the 
Ulster Unionist Council — an extern body of the 
Covenanters' staunchest extremists — who were not to 
figure publicly at the Convention at all, but were to 
act as a Black Cabinet to revise or veto any agreement, 
even if recommended by their own Parliamentary 
representatives. The Convention was thus to be a 
collection of puppets, of which it was to be Sir E. 
Carson and his Ulster Unionist Council who were to 
pull the strings. 


After Mr. Redmond's death, Lord MacDonnell, 
in a letter to the Times mentioned that the Irish leader 
had confided to him that he would never have entered 
the Convention if he understood at the time that this 
was to be the arrangement. If he was unaware of it, 
it must have been because he failed to notice either the 
resolution of the Ulster Unionist Council making the 
stipulation regarding their veto in the most dis- 
tinct terms, or my own reply to Mr. Lloyd George 
(dated June 18, 1917) in which I made this fatal flaw 
in the constitution of the Convention one of my 
principal reasons for declining to nominate repre- 
sentatives from the All-f or- Ireland League : " On 
the other hand, while my friends and myself would 
welcome the most generous representation of the 
unofficial Unionist population of Ireland, the Govern- 
ment scheme ensures to the official Ulster Unionist 
Council a full third of the voting power of the Con- 
vention, under the direction, moreover of a Committee 
not present at the Convention, but specially nominated 
by the Council to supervise its proceedings from 
outside. The terms of the Resolution under which 
the Ulster Unionist Council consented to enter the 
Convention make it clear they have only done so as a 
war measure, and relying upon the assurances of the 
Government that they need fear no Parliamentary 
pressure if they should adhere to their demand for the 
exclusion of the Six Counties as a minimum — a 
demand, indeed, which was conceded to them last 
year by the Irish Parliamentary Party. It is con- 
sequently obvious that the chances of any agreement 
by the Ulster Unionist Council other than one based 
on the separation of the Six Counties are all but 
hopelessly handicapped from the start, and the tempta- 
tion dangerously increased to those Nationalist 
politicians who have already committed themselves 
to dismemberment." 

If this were not a sufficient proof how complete 


would be the veto of Ulster, any possible doubt on 
the subject was removed by a candid statement in 
the House of Commons from Mr. Bonar Law, in 
which the man who was next to Mr. Lloyd George, 
if even second to him, the most important member of 
the Ministry, pledged himself that the assent of Ulster 
would be regarded as indispensable to the " sub- 
stantial agreement " in the Convention on which the 
Prime Minister undertook to legislate. Mr. Red- 
mond's own want of foresight was, therefore, alone 
to blame if he was not warned in good time that nothing 
could come from the Convention unless with the 
consent of the Ulster Unionist Council, and that 
consent, he already knew, was only to be had by 
reviving the old pact for the separation of the Six 
Counties. Notwithstanding these conclusive warnings 
that the Convention must end either in Partition or in 
abortiveness, a perfect torrent of entreaties was for the 
next month poured upon my head from all sorts of 
worthy peace lovers, imploring me to make the All- 
for-Ireland League a consenting party to the imposture. 
On 13th June the Prime Minister addressed to me in 
cordial terms an invitation " to nominate two repre- 
sentatives of the Party under your leadership to serve 
as members of the Convention." My reply, dated 
June 1 8th, expressed " with deep disappointment " 
my conclusion that " while the Government have 
nominally adopted the principle of allowing the 
constitution of Ireland to be settled by agreement 
among Irishmen, they have done so under conditions 
which must render that principle a nullity. There 
can be little or no hope that a Convention constituted 
as the Government have directed can arrive at any 
agreement except some hateful bargain for the Partition 
of the country under some plausible disguise." I 
admonished him that " to attribute the blame for such 
a decision or for the failure to arrive at any better 
one to the unrepresented Irish people would be little 


short of an outrage upon Ireland and would be a gross 
imposition on the credulity of friendly nations abroad," 
and intimated that under the circumstances " I have 
made up my mind with reluctance, and indeed with 
poignant personal sorrow, that I must decline to 
undertake any responsibility in connection with a 
Convention so constituted." 

Sir Horace Plunkett, who was to be the Chairman 
of the Convention, did me the unusual honour of 
addressing to me two public letters couched in terms 
of high courtesy asking me to reconsider my decision, 
adding that, in his belief " if you could see your way 
to come in, you would bring a good many more than 
your own immediate followers." In my reply, I 
pointed out that in his letter he had forgotten " the 
objection which is the most fatal of all — namely, that 
at least go of the 100 members of the Convention will 
be the nominees of the two Irish parties of politicians 
who only last year came to an agreement to form six 
Irish counties into an ' excluded area ' to be separately 
administered through departments responsible only 
to an English Secretary of State under an arrangement 
which could never be terminated without a new Act 
of the Imperial Parliament." My colleagues and 
myself had made it known that we were ready to go 
into the Convention to resist Partition against all odds, 
" if the august body of Bishops, Catholic and Pro- 
testant, who signed the recent manifesto, saw fit to 
delegate to the Convention representatives of their 
Order as to whose ' unrelenting opposition to Partition, 
temporary or permanent ' (to use the Bishops' own 
words) the bulk of the Convention could be left in no 
possible doubt," but I was obliged to add : " Un- 
happily their lordships have decided in a sense which 
has given rise to grave misunderstandings and for 
reasons which this is not the time to discuss but which 
have not lessened the anxieties of patriotic Irishmen." 
To Sir Horace's gentle reproach that, in refusing to 


participate, I was " casting off the mantle of National 
Unity," which had so long been mine, my reply was : 

" Our small band have fought, not for a con- 
temptible verbal victory, but for a practical agreement 
which would make Irishmen of all parties and creeds 
willing partners in the government of an undivided 
Ireland, and while nominally pursuing that object, 
the organisers of the Convention have so loaded the 
dice that, short of a miracle from Heaven, the only 
agreement likely to be arrived at is one for the 
permanent division of Ireland among the place- 
hunters of both factions." 

But his letter seemed to open one avenue by which 
our participation might still be possible. He made 
it an " essential point " that an agreement by the 
Convention should be " submitted for popular approval 
by Referendum or otherwise," and intimated that this 
"would unquestionably" be done. " If he made this 
statement on official authority " I answered, a 
Referendum would still leave it possible for us to 
take part. Sir Horace Plunkett, in his second public 
letter, avowed that " unfortunately, I have no authority 
to make any official person responsible for the state- 
ment, but I did not speak without having the best of 
reasons for believing that what I said was true. If, 
I am able to give you my authority later, I will gladly 
do so." The " later " announcement of his authority 
was never made, and so that avenue to the recon- 
sideration of our decision was closed as well. Mani- 
festly, with Sir Horace as with myself, the Chief 
Secretary had inclined towards a Referendum for all 
Ireland, but was promptly put in his place by those 
who had Sir E. Carson to satisfy. A Referendum for 
all Ireland was now and had always been the terror 
of his life. 

For all that, the most trusted of my own advisers 
began to waver, under the influence of that cry of 
" Peace ! " where there can be no peace which some- 


times sweeps over Ireland with the weird pathos of a 
Banshee. With, perhaps, the most influential of 
them all, for his breadth of judgment, Lord Dunraven, 
I had been compelled to differ on Conscription, 
although with a respect for one another's different 
points of view which was never diminished for an 
hour on either side. " I agree with you," he wrote, 
on the first disclosure of the Constitution. " If 
Redmond's majority can come to any agreement with 
Lonsdale, they can carry it. What I fear is some 
agreement involving carefully concealed Partition " : 
but he eventually yielded to the argument that our 
absence would let judgment go against us by default, 
and accepted for himself the invitation of the Crown. 
I suspect that Mr. Healy's preference inclined in the 
same direction, although with the loyalty in which he 
never failed throughout these soul-trying years, he 
forbore to say so. 1 Mr. William Martin Murphy, 
the proprietor of the most widely circulated of the 
Irish newspapers, The Independent, had been all along 
a convinced believer in the policy of the All-for-Ireland 
League, but to Ireland's heavy loss he hesitated to 
enforce his opinions in his paper, acting, as he told me 
more than once, on the advice of Lord Northcliffe : 
" Never come out strong until you've first got your 
circulation ; once your circulation is there, you can 
say anything you like." His first impression of the 
Convention was my own : 

" Dartry, Dublin, 

28th May, 10,17. 
" Dear Mr. O'Brien, — I agree with you about the 
danger of Partition. Bonar Law's reply to Ronald 
McNeill has turned the Convention which was in- 
tended as a trick into a farce. The Ulsterites will be 
able to say : ' Heads I win, tails you lose.' 

1 Had I his leave to publish them, Mr. Healy's letters, teeming 
with diamondiferous wit, and laden with piquant items of secret 
information, would make a valuable addition to the inner history 
of the time. 


After Partition is repudiated by four-fifths of 
Ireland, it is to be set up again at the Convention. 
My present feeling is to advise that the whole scheme 
should be ignored until Lloyd George repudiates 
Bonar Law's promise to the Ulsterites. 

I think I will write to Northcliffe and tell him 
that all confidence in the bona fides of the Convention 
was knocked on the head by Bonar Law's statement. 
It is evident that he expected some question from 
Dillon to which he referred. 

Sincerely vours, 

*Wm. M. Murphy. 
Wm. O'Brien, Esq., M.P., 
Bellevue, Mallow." 

Later on, however, Mr. Murphy confessed he 
was a little shaken by the disgraceful cry that his 
object was to wreck the Convention, with which he 
was assailed in public and in private. He now wrote 
that " I have no doubt whatever the three of us " 
(Mr. Healy, himself and myself) " would dominate 
the show with the combinations which I think could 
be got together and the fear of public opinion outside 
acting on the Co. Council Chairmen," and he too 
ended by accepting the invitation of the Chief 
Secretary, adding : " If I cannot do any good there, 
I may be some check to those who would do mischief." 

One of the entreaties it was most difficult to resist 
was a secret message I received (June 26) from a 
member of the Cabinet for whom I entertained a 
sincere respect, and the difficulty of resistance was all 
the greater that the message came through one whose 
single-minded services as an intermediary in the 
highest quarters were of priceless value to Ireland 
throughout these years, although they were rewarded 
with the usual brutal injustice by Irish politicians. 
This was the communication of the Minister to my 
excellent friend : 

" Go over and see O'B. ; don't give him messages 


from me direct ; but move him. I know so much 
more than he can know of the North East people. 
I know how hard and almost impossible it is for them 
to confer with R. or he with them. . . . O'B. has got 
very near the Northerners. He, if anyone can bridge 
the last gap. Will he not do it ? If he knew all that 
is in the wind and how much importance attaches to 
his attitude he would." 

It can scarcely be necessary to accentuate the his- 
torical value of this testimony from a Cabinet Minister 
of exceptional authority with " the Northerners,' ' 
both as to the transformation our conciliatory labours 
might have wrought in them, had we received even 
common toleration from our own side while there 
was still time, and as to the evil effect on the mind of 
" the Northerners " of the Hibernian ascendancy. 
It was too late to think of all this except with a sigh. 
In an Hibernian-ridden and an Orange-ridden Con- 
vention, neither we, nor, as it turned out, the sober 
Conciliationist Northerns could do anything but wring 
our ineffectual hands in presence of an artificially 
constructed majority whose programme was : " Either 
Partition or nothing." 

My friend received my answer with sorrow, most 
gently and most diffidently expressed ; but his next 
communication contained a startling confirmation of 
my prognostication that Partition, in even a more 
offensive form than I had suspected, was up to that 
time the settled purpose of the projectors of the 
Convention : 

" The forces that are gathering in this connection 
are very interesting and complicated and frankly not 
to my liking. I will throw out the idea as I get it 
from very high up. There is a lot being said about a 
Federal Commission, and the idea is not merely Home 
Rule all round but Partition all round — that England 
is to be broken up into two States, Scotland, two ; 
Ireland, two, and Wales one ! Then also it is believed 


that Smuts and Borden have dealt a death-blow to 
Empire Federation ; that what we are asked to work 
on now is a lot of local Federal Units — the B. Isles, 
Canada, Australia, S. Africa, N. Z. — and that these 
scattered federations are to be loosely united under the 
Crown in what I suppose will be called a ' Confederacy 
of States.' ... I feel that the issue — that a score of 
vast issues — whether they emerge for better or for 
worse hangs on the toss of a coin." 

My indomitable friend worked on for a manageably- 
sized Conference as the true remedy, but reported : 
" No, their minds run on big battalions and noise ! 
They think that a small Convention will be described 
in the U. S. as ' hole and corner,' and that the columns 
given to it over there will be in direct proportion to 
what Jones of Nevada used to call ' base Roman 
numerals ' " ; he struggled for at least a Referendum 
of all Ireland and could only get as far as dim under- 
standings that the Convention itself might order a 
Referendum — a Referendum which, ex hypothesis 
would be one to destroy their own guilty (but 
successful) conspiracy ! They were still harping 
on " the U. S. and the big battalions and noise!" 

Finally, on the eve of the sitting of the Convention, 
the Prime Minister came to the charge once more, 
in a manner probably without a precedent in the 
usages of Prime Ministers, by addressing to me a 
second public letter (dated from Downing St. 20th 
July) asking me would I not withdraw my refusal ? 
He had nothing better to offer than these anodyne 
generalities : " The Convention is a sincere effort to 
see if Irishmen in Ireland can agree on a settlement 
which will make for better relations between the 
different parties in Ireland and happier relations 
between Ireland and Great Britain. With the object 
in view, I know that you are in full sympathy, and I 
most earnestly hope that you will respond to this 
appeal, which I understand, has come also from many 


other quarters, to give your help toward securing the 
success of the Convention." 

The controversy was wound up in a letter in which 
I repeated that " the type of Convention selected by 
you defeats its stated object with fatal certainty by 
leaving the great mass of Nationalist opinion all but 
wholly unrepresented and conferring the power of 
decision upon a majority of politicians who have 
notoriously lost the confidence of the Irish people," 
and begged of him to persevere no further with a 
Convention hopelessly out of touch with Irish public 
opinion, but to fall back upon a friendly conference 
of the most potential friends of peace in all parties as 
the only means — a forlorn one enough by this time — 
of finding a way out. 

Unluckily this latter advice was now a counsel 
of perfection. An event had just happened which 
put an end to the last chance of negotiating otherwise 
than with weapons of steel. At the battle of Messines 
on June 7th, Major " Willie " Redmond, like the 
" vera parfait, gentil knight " he was, insisted " on 
going over the top " at the head of his men and met 
his death. His only complaint, we may be sure, was 
that he could but repeat the dying cry of Sarsfield at 
Landen : " O that this were for Ireland ! " For his 
constituency in East Clare, Mr. De Valera offered 
himself as a candidate on the straight issue of an Irish 
Republic. The Hibernians made a supreme effort 
to rehabilitate their fortunes and, what, with the 
sympathies enkindled by the young soldier's fate, the 
high expectations created by the Convention, and a 
candidate of widespread local influence, they were 
fatuous enough to count upon an easy victory. To 
their stupefaction, the Irish Republic carried the day 
with a majority of five thousand votes. Had the 
figures been reversed, a Partition scheme must have 
been carried through the Convention with not more 
than half a dozen dissenting voices. East Clare put 


an end to the danger of the Convention coming to a 
criminal agreement for Partition, but it was only to 
create a new danger — for the uprise of the Republic 
forbade the possibility of any other agreement, since 
if it were to meet acceptance by the country in its 
present mood, it would not have the smallest chance of 
acceptance either by Ulster or by the British Parlia- 
ment. The Irish people are too ready to make idols 
and too ready to break them. It was by men too little 
known to excite either idolatry or animosity that the 
ways were to be in the long run straitened out. But 
for the next four years, at all events, Mr. De Valera, 
with his Republican Tricolour, was the National idol, 
and Mr. Griffith and his peaceful penetrationists were 
laid up in lavender. The presence of Sinn Fein at an 
amicable Conference-table was no longer practical 
politics. Elated with what seemed the cleverness of 
a paltry electioneering dodge, Mr. Lloyd George and 
his Hibernian counsellors released Mr. De Valera and 
established the Irish Republic. 




None the less, the joint Convention of the Hibernians 
and Covenanters assembled in Dublin on July 25th, 
amidst decorative surroundings that might well give 
a good-natured people like the Irish the impression 
that some great work of peace was on foot. The 
Convention held its sittings within the historic walls 
of Trinity College amidst the finest stage scenery the 
genial Provost, Dr. Mahaffy, could provide ; a 
President of respectable neutrality was found in Sir 
Horace Plunkett ; not a few single-minded Irishmen, 
with a nobler gift for peace and goodwill than for the 
mean realities of politics, were induced to join in 
attempting to elevate the assembly above the normal 
manoeuvres of the politicians ; for months the country 
was permitted to hear of nothing but patriotic 
junketings and speeches, "passed by the Censor," over- 
flowing with the raptures of " the Black Northerns " 
at the discovery of the charms of " the Sunny South," 
and corresponding responses from the Sunny South 
to the advances of the dour men of the Black North — 
all purely for exportation to " the U. S." As a pre- 
caution against any premature disclosure of the truth, 
the business meetings of the Convention were held in 
private, and any report of their secret sittings, any 
comment or even any " reference " to them in speech 
or newspaper was declared a crime under the Defence 
of the Realm Act. The impatience of the country 
was sought to be allayed by not over-candid assurances 
from Sir Horace Plunkett in his banquetting speeches 
from time to time that all was going well. " The 


U. S." had to be kept amused by such romantic scene- 
painting and by the band for many months before the 
curtain could finally be lifted and then only to exhibit 
the actors scurrying off the stage, like as many poor 
ghosts at cockcrow. The realities of the drama were 
going on in America itself, where England was playing 
for the soul of President Wilson. In the Ireland of 
real life the Volunteers were silently arming and 
drilling their battalions, paying but a contemptuous 
attention to the love-feasts of the politicians in Mr. 
Lloyd George's " Irish Convention." 

Those who may have the curiosity to dip into the 
musty volumes of shorthand notes of the secret sittings 
will find that week after week, and month after month 
passed without any attempt to grapple with the real 
problem, which was to win over Ulster without 
Partition. Plenty of patriotic platitudes and over- 
flowing, but the most studious determination on both 
sides not to come to business. It is one of the curious 
ironies of history that almost every speech at these 
secret sessions was one that might have been delivered 
from an All-for-Ireland platform any time for the five 
previous years. They were speeches of eager longing 
for the co-operation of Irishmen of every class, creed 
and racial origin ; no longer a whisper of those 
exhortations to give " a dose of the old medicine " 
to " our hereditary enemies," the " rotten Protestants," 
and " the blackblooded Cromweliians " with which 
Hibernian oratory had for melancholy years resounded, 
Ah ! welladay ! had all these tardy speeches of abashed 
Hibernians and patriotic Southern Unionists of the 
Lord Midleton stamp only been delivered in the light 
of day and a few years before, how differently con- 
temporary Irish history might have been written ! 

The explanation of the amorphous condition of the 
Convention was only too simple. A Partition Agree- 
ment could have been at any moment struck up by an 
overwhelming majority if the Hibernians could have 


plucked up courage to hark back to their Party's 
surrender of the Six Counties more than a year before. 
But the mobbing of Mr. Redmond outside Trinity 
College on the opening day, and the mobbing of Mr. 
Redmond and Mr. Devlin again in Cork (which was 
the only notice the young men deigned to take of their 
proceedings) — above all the recollection of the message 
of doom from East Clare, kept alive by the hints the 
unrepresentative majority were receiving every day 
of their lives of the indignation and contempt of their 
constituents — completely daunted the mass of the 
County Councillors and Town Councillors from 
following their Parliamentary leaders an inch further 
on the road to Partition. 

When after five months' barren deliberations, the 
word was passed, now that " the U. S." was squared, 
that the Convention must somehow finish up, they 
found their heads bumped against a stone-wall, and 
could discover no way through it or over it except one 
which strikingly confirmed those who had urged a 
small Conference of Notables as the only practical 
means of working out a Settlement by Consent. 
What happened deserves to be recalled from the 
oblivion to which the rest of the proceedings of the 
Convention were deservedly condemned. The only 
approach to business of any kind they found practicable 
was to suspend the operations of the Convention 
proper altogether and to delegate their powers to a 
Committee of Nine." It was excellent, or rather it 
would once have been. They forgot that their Com- 
mittee of Nine was subject to two disabilities from 
which our Conference of ten or a dozen notables would 
have been free. They sat without any representative 
of Sinn Fein— that is to say of the only organisation 
which could speak for five-sixths of the Nationalists 
of the country ; and the representatives of Ulster on 
the Committee of Nine were not free agents, but the 
nominees of an outside Orange tribunal, the Ulster 


Unionist Council, without whose imprimatur any 
agreement of theirs must be valueless. The prac- 
ticability of the one plan, and the impracticability 
of the other were demonstrated in a still more 
remarkable manner. Two of the three representatives of 
Ulster on the Committee of Nine — Lord Londonderry 
and Mr. Hugh Barrie, M.P. — were actually two of 
those I had suggested as fit and proper persons in my 
Memo, to the Chief Secretary. They justified the 
confidence in their conciliatory temper and large- 
mindedness so well that, whenever the secrets of the 
council-chamber come to be revealed, I have the best 
reason to know it will be found that the three repre- 
sentatives of Ulster (the third being a lawyer of 
enormous influence in the North, Mr. McDowell) 
so long as they were left free to act on their own 
judgment, collaborated cordially with the remainder 
of the Committee of Nine in formulating an agreement 
which under happier stars might have developed into 
a benign National Settlement. But under the con- 
stitution of Mr. Lloyd George's Convention, the three 
Ulster representatives were made cyphers in their own 
province. No sooner had they submitted their con- 
ditional agreement to Sir E. Carson's occult Vigilance 
Committee, who were the real masters of the Con- 
vention, than their partiality for any agreement other 
than Partition was pitilessly snubbed, and the Com- 
mittee of Nine was doomed to barrenness and failure 
as had been the plenary Convention. 1 

A rebuff like this ought in all honesty to have been 
the signal for the dissolution of the Convention ; but 

1 It is worthy of remark that Mr. Ronald McNeill's book, 
Ulster's Stand for the Union, carefully suppresses any mention 
whatever of the " Committee of Nine," who arrived at the only 
genuine all-round agreement produced by the Convention. The 
suppression is all the more significant that the author tells us : 
" My friend, Mr. Thomas Moles, m.p. (the official Ulster Secretary 
of the Convention), took full shorthand notes of the proceedings 
of the Convention, and he kindly allowed me to use his transcript." 


they " kept on talking " for other weeks and months 
to come, until America was duly afloat for the scene of 
war, and a number of worthy men who had been 
formed into Sub-Committees gravely pursued their 
investigations into the Land Purchase question, and 
the Irish Mines and Minerals question, and ad- 
ministered good cheer to weak minds by propounding 
a pious opinion against Conscription. The only 
affectation of real life left to the Convention was the 
attempt of Mr. William Martin Murphy, after the 
Committee of Nine had been reduced to nothingness, 
to wind up the Convention to a declaration for 
Dominion Home Rule. Quite a hopeless enterprise, 
it is true, and one, curiously enough, in which he was 
obstructed with persistency by the Chairman, Sir 
Horace Plunkett, who later on was to found a Dominion 
Home Rule League all his own, as though he were the 
original patentee of the specific, but who now (as Mr. 
Murphy more than once confided to me) engineered 
the latter out of every endeavour to submit the subject 
squarely to the Convention. The iron will of Mr. 
Murphy, which did not bend before " Jim Larkin " 
when his tyranny was at its height, was not to be easily 
broken. Standing alone in the beginning in an 
assembly which did not love him, his stubbornness was 
not long in securing the adhesion of the two most 
formidable men in Mr. Redmond's Hibernian majority. 
The time had come when no Hibernian durst whisper 
" Partition " above his breath. Mr. Devlin must 
have become sensible already that he had got down 
at the wrong side of the fence. He never afterwards 
quite forgave Mr. Dillon for the unlucky lead whicl 
induced the Hibernian Grand Master to stake his 
future as the prime mover of the Belfast Convention 
at which he had succeeded in thrusting the Partition 
agreement down the throats of the Nationalists of the 
Six Counties. He now made a desperate attempt 
to refill the sails of his popularity by joining Mr. 


Murphy and proclaiming himself for nothing short 
of Dominion Home Rule. His example was imitated, 
or more likely dictated, by Dr. O'Donnell, the Bishop 
of Raphoe, who had long been the most ambitious 
politician in the ranks of the Hierarchy. It was he 
whose patronage gave the Board of Erin wing of the 
Ancient Order of Hibernians its first foothold in 
Ireland, and he, too, who took a principal part in 
establishing its supremacy as the real governing 
power in Ireland. His Lordship had realized earlier 
than some of his venerable Brethren that Partition 
was no longer a viable policy, at least in the North. 
During the last months of the Convention he, like 
Mr. Devlin, transferred his allegiance to the Dominion 
Home Rule programme of Mr. William Martin 
Murphy, and left Mr. Redmond in a state of tragic 

The story is a pitiful one of desertion by the 
Hibernians and a fresh act of faithlessness by Mr. 
Lloyd George. He had already been guilty of one 
breach of faith with the Convention. He pledged 
himself at the outset to carry into law any decision 
which might secure a " substantial agreement " among 
its members. He afterwards sat dumbly by while 
Mr. Bonar Law in his name cancelled that pledge by 
announcing that any " substantial agreement " must 
include the LTlster group to be of any avail. The 
Prime Minister was now to commit a still more 
impudent breach of the undertaking on which the 
Convention was brought together. The Government, 
he stated in the House of Commons, proposed to 
summon the Convention " to submit to the British 
Government a Constitution for the future government 
of Ireland within the Empire." No sooner was it 
reported to him that Mr. Murphy's push for Dominion 
Home Rule was making formidable progress among 
Mr. Redmond's Hibernians than on February 25th, 
191 8, he wrote a public letter addressed to Sir Horace 


Plunkett, repudiating the freedom of the Convention 
to frame what Constitution it pleased " within the 
Empire,'' and declaring categorically that the British 
Government must in any event reserve Customs and 
Excise, which was the quintessence of the fiscal 
freedom of the Dominions. 

The blow was well calculated to break up the last 
hope of uniting even Mr. Redmond's majority in any 
National Agreement worth the cost of printing it. 
A majority for Dominion Home Rule would have 
been a purely platonic performance in any case, since 
" substantial agreement " even of the friendly Southern 
Unionists, not to speak of the Northerns, was out of the 
question ; Mr. Lloyd George's new breach of faith, 
ruling Customs and Excise out of the discussion, 
shattered the Hibernian block itself into smithereens, 
between those who adhered to Mr. Redmond, and those 
who deserted to Mr. William Martin Murphy. Lord 
Midleton and his Southern Unionists were willing to 
join Mr. Redmond in a compromise by which Excise 
would be conceded at once to the Irish Parliament and 
Customs would be temporarily reserved — a com- 
promise which Mr. Lloyd George would, no doubt, 
have gratefully closed with. 1 Mr. Redmond's con- 
clusion would seem to have been that a division in 
which the Southern Unionists and the Nationalists 
of every hue would be found voting together for a 
large measure of freedom for an undivided Ireland 
would at least be a more creditable end for a Con- 
vention in any event doomed to be an abortive one, 
than a catchpenny minority vote for a full Dominion 
Home Rule, rejected beforehand by the Prime Minister 
and frankly despised by the country. The resolution, 
in which his final effort for a united decision was to be 
made, substantially asked the country to go back to 

a How unimportant the point in dispute was may be judged 
from the official return of revenue of the Irish Free State, which 
is in the proportion of £2,000,000 Customs to £14,000,000 Excise. 


the Policy of Conciliation from which he had been 
driven, sorely against his own balanced judgment, by 
the revolt of Mr. Dillon and the Freeman's Journal 
against the Land Conference Settlement. But the 
union of Irishmen of all schools and classes which 
would have been the most practicable of practical 
politics then was by this time fatally forbidden by the 
uprise of the Hibernian ascendancy and by the alarms 
of an armed Ulster whose worst passions that 
ascendancy had kindled from ashes into a blaze. 
Moreover, the moderate terms of settlement which 
nearly all Irish Nationalists would have welcomed 
with sincerity then, as containing the germs of Freedom 
in its happiest efflorescence, had now become irre- 
trievably out of date in the eyes of a young generation 
who had experienced little but impotence from Irish 
politicians and deception from British ones, in the 
interval. The unkindest stab of all was that, in his 
last stand, and in a state of health when Death was 
visibly overshadowing him, the Irish leader found 
himself deserted by the self-same men who had goaded 
him into forsaking the Policy of 1903, and were striving 
desperately now to atone for the consequences of 
Hibernianism by opening a fresh chapter of deceit as 
converts to a Dominion Home Rule declared by their 
old idol, Mr. Lloyd George, to be a phantom. Captain 
Stephen Gwynn in his book John Redmond's last years 
gives a moving picture of the final scene. So does Mr. 
Ronald McNeill in his Ulster's Stand for the Union. 
As the description of the official historiographers on 
both sides are in pretty nearly identical terms, their 
narratives may henceforth be accepted as settled 
history, and can be studied with profit side by side. 


" I met Redmond on the night of January 14th. He 
had seen no one in these ten days. He told me that 
he was still uncertain what would happen, but asked 


me to get one of the leading Co. Councillors to second 
his motion. Next morning I came in half an hour 
before the meeting to find the man I wanted. When 
I met him he was full of excitement and said : ' Some- 
thing has gone wrong ; the men are all saying they 
must vote against Redmond.' Then it was evident 
that propaganda had been busy to some purpose. 

" When Redmond came into his place I said : 
* It's all right, Martin McDonagh will second your 
motion.' He answered with a characteristic brusque- 
ness : * He needn't trouble ; I am not going to move 
it, Devlin and the Bishops are voting against me.' 

" He rose immediately the chairman was in his 
place. ' The amendment which I have on the paper,' 
he said, ' embodies the deliberate advice I give to the 
Convention. I consulted no one, and could not do 
so, being ill. It stands on record on my sole re- 
sponsibility. Since entering the building I have 
heard that some very important Nationalist repre- 
sentatives are against this course — the Catholic 
Bishops, Mr. Devlin and others. I must face the 
situation, at which I am surprised, and I regret it. 
If I proceeded I should probably carry my point on a 
division, but the Nationalists would be divided. 
Such a division would not carry out the objects I 
have in view, therefore, I must avoid pressing my 
motion. But I leave it standing upon the paper. 
Others will give their advice. I feel that I can be of 
no further service to the Convention and will, there- 
fore, not move.' 

" There was a pause of consternation. The 
Chairman intervened and the debate proceeded and 
was carried on through the week. . . . No one can 
overstate the effect of this episode. Redmond's 
personal ascendancy in the Convention had become 
very great. . . . The Ulstermen had more than once 
expressed their view that if Home Rule were sure to 
mean Redmond's rule, their objection to it would be 


materially lessened. Now they saw Redmond thrown 
over, and by a combination in which the Clerical 
ascendancy, so much distrusted by them, was 


" For some time Mr. Redmond had given 
the impression of being a tired man who had 
lost his wonted driving-force. He took little 
or no part in the lobbying and canvassing that 
was constantly going on behind the scenes in the 
Convention ; he appeared to be losing grip as a leader. 
But he cannot be blamed for his anxiety to come to 
terms with Lord Midleton ; and when he found, no 
doubt greatly to his surprise, that a Unionist leader 
was ready to abandon Unionist principle and to accept 
Dominion Home Rule for Ireland, subject to a single 
reservation on the subject of Customs, he naturally 
jumped at it and assumed that his followers would do 
the same. 

" But while Mr. Redmond had been losing ground, 
the influence of the Catholic Bishop of Raphoe had 
been on the increase, and that able and astute prelate 
was entirely opposed to the compromise on which 
Mr. Redmond and Lord Midleton were agreed. On 
the evening of the 14th of January it came to the 
knowledge of Mr. Redmond that when the question 
came up for discussion next day, he would find Mr. 
Devlin, his principal lieutenant, in league with the 
ecclesiastics against him. . . . There was an atmos- 
phere of suppressed excitement when the Chairman 
took his seat on the 15th. Mr. Redmond entered a 
few seconds later and took his usual place without 
betraying the slightest sign of disturbed equanimity. 
The Bishop of Raphoe strode past him, casting to 
left and right swift challenging glances. Mr. Devlin 
slipped quietly into his seat beside the leader he had 


thrown over, without a word or gesture of greeting. . . 
A minute or so of tense pause ensued. Then Mr. 
Redmond rose, and in a perfectly even voice and his 
usual measured diction, stated that he was aware that 
his proposal was repudiated by many of his usual 
followers, that the Bishops were against him and some 
leading Nationalists, including Mr. Devlin ; that 
while he believed if he persisted he would have a 
majority, the result would be to split his party, a thing 
he wished to avoid ; and that he had therefore decided 
not to proceed with his amendment and under these 
circumstances felt he could be of no further use to the 
Convention in the matter. For a minute or two the 
assembly could not grasp the full significance of what 
had happened. Then it broke upon them that this 
was the fall of a notable leader. . . . Mr. Redmond 
took no further part in the work of the Convention ; 
his health was failing and the members were startled 
by the news of his death on the 6th of March." 

John Redmond did, indeed, quit the Convention 
Hall never to return. He had been suffering from an 
inward disease against which, in any case, he could 
not have struggled much longer. But if ever an Irish 
leader died of a broken heart (as, woful to confess, is 
the normal penalty attached to the distinction), it may 
with truth be said that John Redmond died of Mr. 
Lloyd George's " Irish Convention," composed in the 
main of his own partisans, and that the tragedy is the 
only practical result — so far as Ireland is concerned — 
for which that ill-omened body will be remembered. 
The ghastly attempt to prolong the sittings for some 
weeks after his death, and to juggle with the figures 
of the divisions so as to represent that something like 
a sub-majority vote of the majority had been 
engineered, fell absolutely flat in a country where 
the Convention only escaped aversion by perishing 
of contempt. " Ulster " stood precisely where she 
did, on the rock of a Partition sanctioned by Ireland's 


own " Nationalist " representatives, and these 
worthies, split up between those who would have 
clung to Mr. Redmond, and those who dismissed him 
to his deathbed, were united only in the destruction 
which overtook the entire body of 70 members of the 
Convention (with one solitary exception) as soon as 
their constituencies got the opportunity of settling 
accounts with them at the General Elections, Parlia- 
mentary and Local. Mr. Dillon, who had been all 
along the masked leader, now became the responsible 
leader of " The Party/' but it was only to officiate 
as chief mourner at its funeral. 

For Mr. Lloyd George the Convention was not so 
barren of results. " Ireland might starve but great 
George weighed twenty stone." Ireland was duped, 
and John Redmond in his grave, but Great Britain 
was throbbing with the sight of the United States 
despatching her soldiers in millions to the rescue of 
England. The Prime Minister had one other 
memorable satisfaction. On April 9th, 1918, the 
day on which the " Report " of the Convention was 
submitted to the Cabinet, and without (as he con- 
fessed) doing the unfortunate document the courtesy 
of reading it, he announced that his word to Ireland 
was to be broken again, and that Conscription was to 
be imposed upon Ireland in violation of his solemn 
promise to the contrary. 




The resistance to Conscription led to the first and last 
occasion on which all descriptions of Nationalists — 
Parliamentary, Republican and Labourite — acted 
unitedly together. One of the bribes by which 
Mr. Lloyd George had secured the silence of the 
Hibernian Party, while "the Home Rule Government," 
with a sweeping " Home Rule " majority was being 
transformed into a Coalition dominated by Sir E. 
Carson, was the promise that Ireland would be 
exempted from Conscription. The promise was to 
be impudently broken now when the Hibernian 
Party had parted with its casting vote. By a grisly 
coincidence, on the day when the Report of the Irish 
Convention was submitted to the Cabinet, Mr. Lloyd 
George rose in the House of Commons to propose 
that the Conscription Act be extended to Ireland. 
His announcement wrung from me the exclamation : 
11 That is a declaration of war against Ireland ! " It 
also wrought the rank-and-file of the Hibernian Party 
into an outburst of real indignation. Mr. Lloyd 
George had, however, his answer that put to silence 
the falsetto passion of their leaders. He was ready 
with quotations from the late Mr. Redmond, in which 
he said : " Let me state what is my personal view on 
the question of compulsion. I am prepared to say 
I will stick at nothing — nothing which is necessary — 
in order to win this war," and from his successor, Mr. 
Dillon, who added : " Like Mr. Redmond I view the 
thing from the point of view of necessity and ex- 
pediency. I would not hesitate to support Con- 


scription to-morrow, if I thought it was necessary to 
maintain liberty, and if there was no Conscription we 
ran the risk of losing the war." The Prime Minister 
had no difficulty in satisfying the condition of 
" necessity " by appealing to the desperate emergency 
of the moment, when " with American aid we can 
save the war, but even with American help we cannot 
feel secure." After which he was able to give short 
shrift to the present blatant indignation of the 
Hibernian leaders and to the spluttering war-cries 
of their bemuddled followers. 

The fit of hypocritical virtue which always accom- 
panies a breach of faith with Ireland by a sanctified 
assurance of rewards to come was not missing on the 
present occasion. Conscription there must be, to be 
enforced within two or three weeks, but, Mr. Lloyd 
George sweetly warbled, it was to be washed down 
with a new Home Rule Bill, which he only vaguely 
adumbrated as one to be founded on the Majority 
Report of the Irish Convention ; but inasmuch as he 
casually mentioned that he had not yet read the 
Majority Report at all, and as the Majority Report 
turned out to be a make-believe, which was impartially 
despised on all sides, and was, in fact, never heard of 
more, the perfidy of breaking the promise Ireland 
understood to have been plainly given, was only 
aggravated by the accompanying dose of British 
hypocrisy. It was too late, however, for the Party 
who had parted with their Parliamentary power to 
make any impression in Parliament. Their wry faces 
made but little impression upon the serried ranks of 
the Coalition. It was in Ireland, not in Westminster, 
Conscription had to be encountered, and not with 
words. It was to gird Ireland up to the terrific trial 
to which the Conscription Act challenged her that my 
own protest was principally directed : 

" Whether wisely or unwisely, all parties of 
politicians, both English and Irish, have done their 


worst to deprive my friends and myself of any effectual 
power of interfering in Irish affairs, but so long as I 
retain my seat in this House at all, I shall not shrink 
from the duty of making my protest, no matter how 
powerless it may be, against the mad and wicked 
crime which you are proposing to-night to perpetrate 
upon Ireland. For forty years now Ireland has been 
pleading and hungering for peace with England upon 
the most moderate terms. For the last eight years 
the representatives of the Irish people have had 
sovereign power of life and death over this Parliament 
under two successive Governments and the only fault 
of the Irish people was that they trusted you too much, 
and allowed their representatives in this House to use 
their tremendous powers — the greatest powers that 
Irishmen ever had over your Parliament — only too 
feebly and with only too merciful a regard for your 
interests. Even when this war broke out Ireland 
could have destroyed you. One of your own states- 
men then acknowledged that Ireland was the one bright 
spot on your horizon. What is Ireland's reward ? 
Now, when in your wild ignorance you have taken it 
into your heads that the two latest Irish elections 
of South Armagh and Waterford show 1 that the 
spirit of Sinn Fein is dying away, you have 
the country disarmed and are holding it down 
under Martial Law. You have your jails packed with 
political prisoners whom you are treating as common 
felons for the self-same offence of drilling a Volunteer 
Army, for which two of the most distinguished leaders 
of the Ulster Volunteers have been promoted to be 
Cabinet Ministers. We have witnessed to-night an- 
other exhibition of the old trick of mixing up the 
promise of a milk and water Home Rule Bill which 
you know will come to nothing with a proposal of 
brutal military coercion by which you ask the Irish 
people to shed torrents of their blood — I suppose by 
way of gratitude to the Prime Minister for casting^to 

1 Five Hibernians were returned. 



the winds, as he did to-night, another solemn promise 
to the Irish nation. ... If you expect co-operation 
or gratitude all I can tell you is you will receive nothing 
and deserve nothing but the detestation of a people 
who only a few months ago were all but on their knees 
proffering you their friendship and their allegiance. 
I say all this with bitter regret, because you have 
compelled me to renounce those dreams of a true and 
permanent reconciliation between these two countries 
with which I can truly say my thoughts have been 
occupied night and day for the past fifteen years. . . . 
I do not want on an occasion of this kind to accentuate 
differences amongst Irish Nationalists. You have 
perhaps by this proposal to-night done something to 
lessen those differences and to ensure that however 
serious our differences have been and are, on this 
question of resistance to Conscription you will find 
all Irish Nationalists the world over who are worth 
their salt standing shoulder to shoulder against you. 
I dare say you have machine guns enough to beat 
down armed resistance, although you may not find it 
as easy a job as the Prime Minister imagines, but even 
if you succeed your troubles with Ireland shall be only 
beginning. Your own experience ought to have 
taught you that, in the 800 years you have spent in 
trying, you have never yet completely conquered 
Ireland and you never shall. What you will do, I am 
afraid, will be to drive resistance into other channels 
with which, with all your military power, you will 
never be able to deal, and you will be digging a gulf 
of hatred between the two countries which no living 
man will see bridged over again. I hate to say it in 
your present hour of trouble, but in my solemn belief 
it is the truth. By this Bill, instead of winning soldiers 
for your army, you are calling down upon your heads 
the execrations of the entire Irish race in America and 
Australia and Canada, as well as in every honest Irish 
home, if not among the five hundred thousand men 


of Irish blood in your own military camps, and you 
are driving millions of the best men of our race to 
turn away their eyes from this Parliament for ever." 

Never was perfidy more swiftly punished. To 
the demand for her best blood, coming from the 
Government which had just broken its word twice 
over, by the fraudulent Convention, and by the 
violation of its pledge to exempt her from Conscription, 
Ireland made answer that her blood would be spent 
rather in resisting the decree of her oppressors, and 
to the world's amaze, it was the all but unarmed 
" small nationality " that succeeded, and it was the 
Power counting its soldiers by millions that went down 
in the encounter. The happy idea of turning that 
resistance into a heavensent bond of National Unity 
occurred to the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Aid. O'Neill), 
who can truly be described as the only Irishman of 
our time, who lived through long years of civil war, 
and belonged to no Party, but gave noble service to 
them all. He summoned a Mansion House Con- 
ference at which the leaders of all sections met around 
the same board to organize the resistance. The 
Conference was so happily constituted as to deserve 
the description of it given by the official organ of Sinn 
Fein — The Irish Bulletin — that " it formed a National 
Cabinet." Its members were — For the Sinn Fein 
Party, Mr. De Valera and Mr. Arthur Griffith ; for 
the Hibernian Party — Mr. Dillon and Mr. Devlin ; 
for the All-for-Ireland Party, Mr. T. M. Healy and 
myself ; and for the Irish Labour Party, Messrs. 
Johnston, O'Brien and Egan. The country was fused 
as it was never fused before by the common danger 
into a glowing National unity so complete that any 
order countersigned by " the National Cabinet " 
would have been obeyed without question by every 
Nationalist of the race. 

Its sittings gave me my first opportunities of getting 
acquainted with Mr. De Valera. His transparent 


sincerity, his gentleness and equability captured the 
hearts of us all. His gaunt frame and sad eyes deeply 
buried in their sockets had much of the Dantesque 
suggestion of " the man who had been in hell." His 
was that subtle blend of virility and emotion which 
the Americans mean when they speak of " a magnetic 
man." Even the obstinacy (and it was sometimes 
trying) with which he would defend a thesis, as though 
it were a point in pure mathematics, with more than 
the French bigotry for logic, became tolerable enough 
when, with a boyish smile, he would say : " You will 
bear with me, won't you ? You know I am an old 
schoolmaster." On the other hand the Memphis 
Sphinx could not well have been more mute than 
was Mr. Arthur Griffith during these consultations, 
but his silence had something of the placid strength 
and assuredness of that granitic Egyptian countenance. 
Nobody acquainted with his abundant and excellent 
work as a publicist will suspect that he said nothing 
because he had nothing to say. So long as all went 
well, he was content to listen. He raised no diffi- 
culties. He gave no hint of personal preferences or 
fads. Throughout our sittings, Mr. Healy was con- 
siderate and conciliatory to a degree that took away 
the breath of Mr. Dillon himself, and he contributed 
to our proceedings in the form of an Address to 
President Wilson, a statement of Ireland's historic 
case which will deserve to live in our National archives 
as a State paper of classic value. On the day of our 
first meeting at the Mansion House, the Irish Bishops 
were meeting also at Maynooth, twelve miles away. 
It will always be counted among my most consolatory 
memories that it was my good fortune to frame for 
submission to the Bishops a resolution outlining the 
form of National Resistance to be adopted. It was 
Mr. De Valera who drew up the words of the Anti- 
Conscription Pledge which we suggested should be 
solemnly taken in every parish in the country on the 


following Sunday. It was, indeed, a drastic one, 
and led to a logomachy between its author and Mr. 
Dillon so prolonged that I had to appeal to the Lord 
Mayor to force a decision, or the Bishops would have 
dispersed and our deputation would arrive too late. 
The necessity for haste was justified. When the 
deputation reached Maynooth, the Bishops had con- 
cluded their meeting with a resolution energetic 
enough as a Platonic protest against Conscription but 
as water unto wine compared with the specific declara- 
tion of war of which our deputation were the bearers. 
Fortunately their Lordships reassembled and adopted 
with but few changes even of words the substance 
of our recommendations " solemnly pledging the 
Nation to resist Conscription by the most effectual 
means at their disposal," and inaugurating the National 
resistance by a Mass of Intercession in every church 
in the island to be followed by the public administra- 
tion of the Pledge. The Bishops, who have not 
always been so fortunate in their dealings with Irish 
political affairs, deserve the lasting gratitude of the 
nation for the fortitude (and it was greater than persons 
without intimate secret knowledge could estimate) 
with which they faced all the perils of saving their 
race. It was the Bishops' solemn benediction to the 
resistance " by the most effectual means at the dis- 
posal of the Irish people " which killed Conscription. 
Next, of course, to the known determination of 
the youth of the country to be worthy of their lead and 
to resist unto blood. Even the appalling experiences 
of the war let loose later on by Sir Hamar Greenwood 
will scarcely enable posterity to realize in what a 
perfect ecstacy of self-sacrifice the young men were 
preparing to meet Conscription foot to foot. The 
Government on its own side seemed not less resolute. 
Every regiment that could be spared was hurried over 
to Ireland, and Field Marshal French, fresh from the 
horrors of the Flanders battlefields, was sent over as 


Commander-in-Chief to superintend the operations 
which were to begin " in a week or two." Early on 
the morning of the day on which the Mansion House 
Conference was to hold its first meeting, I was 
awakened in my bedroom at the Shelbourne Hotel 
by the noise of a military band escorting Field-Marshal 
French on his arrival by the morning mail from 
England. As he stepped out of his motor-car to 
enter the Hotel, I heard him saluted by waiters, 
porters and chambermaids from almost every window 
of the Hotel (once the most aristocratic in the metro- 
polis) with shouts of " Up, Easter Week ! " " Up, 
the rebels ! " The outburst so impressed the new 
Commander-in-Chief that he took his meals in his 
bedroom, and only from the hands of his orderly. 
The Head Waiter once entering his room was asked 
what did the people really mean to do about Con- 
scription. " Well, my lord," was the quiet reply, 
" we are seventy men in this house. We have all 
made our peace with God. You may have our dead 
bodies, but you'll get nothing else." Another ex- 
perience of mine will help better than any wealth of 
detail to an understanding of the spirit now enkindled. 
General Gage, an honest-hearted Englishman, who 
came over to Ireland for the first time to take command 
of the Conscription campaign in the South, called 
upon me to relate with an almost comical surprise 
what had befallen him the previous day while he was 
motoring in the neighbourhood of Mitchelstown with 
the High Sheriff for the County (Mr. Philip Harold 
Barry) who had himself publicly and with arm uplifted 
taken the pledge to resist Conscription. They 
questioned a priest whom they met riding down from 
the Galtee Mountains as to how feeling ran among 
the people. " I can't do better," was the reply of the 
priest, " than tell you what happened up the road 
there a minute ago. I met old Darby Ryan who 
complained that the jackdaws had been playing havoc 


with his field of young corn. ' Father,' he said, ' I 
went for the ould gun to have a shot at the diwels, 
but I found I had only five cartridges left, and, Father/ 
he said, ' I'm going to keep them for the first five 
sojers that come to take away my boy.' " Such was 
the spirit, it must with truth be owned, which alone 
could have brought the Ministers of England to repent 
their breach of faith on Conscription, but "in a week 
or two " it decided them to drop a campaign which 
would assuredly have cost them a dozen casualties in 
their own ranks at the least for every conscript they 
could ever succeed in transporting whole to Flanders. 

With the success of united action, as against 
Conscription, came the more and more insistent cry 
for an extended unity from the crowds that night and 
day surged around our closed doors at the Mansion 
House. They could guess but vaguely what was 
going on within, but Sinn Fein, Labour and ourselves 
were in an accord that was on no occasion broken. 
The Labour delegates (two of whom have since become 
conspicuous figures in the formation of an Irish Labour 
Party in the Dail) were helpful in council and fearless 
in their preparations for resistance. One of our 
colleagues alone stood coldly aloof. Mr. Dillon did 
not like the Conference and was with reluctance drawn 
into it. He regarded every practical line of action 
suggested with suspicion and alarm. Mr. De Valera's 
own opinion that the young men would infinitely 
prefer open fight with arms in their hands to the small 
torments of passive resistance, he received with a long 
face which made it clear that the innumerable applica- 
tions from the country for instructions could only be 
answered by the leaders of each section for themselves. 
His only active concern with our affairs was the deter- 
mination to retain his hold on the administration of 
the vast funds contributed on our first appeal. He 
was apparently obsessed with the suspicion that they 
would be spent on armaments. Even were that not 


so, he always held to the control of funds as the control 
of the sinews of war. And as neither Mr. Healy nor 
I were able to devote the necessary time to the business 
of the Financial Committee he objected with energy 
to any representative of the All-for-Ireland League 
being substituted in our place. Mr. Devlin, while 
more cautious, imitated the detachment of his 
principal, if he was, indeed, any longer his principal. 
Before the National Cabinet was long at work, Field 
Marshal French, who had by this time become Viceroy, 
struck a blow which was excessively unworthy of an 
honest soldier. On the pretence that he had dis- 
covered some new and blood-curdling " German 
Plot," he tore away Mr. De Valera and Mr. Griffith 
from our Conference table and shut them up with a 
hundred of their chief lieutenants without any form 
of trial in English prisons. The " German Plot " 
was obviously, as it is now universally confessed to 
have been, a villainous fabrication. When at our next 
meeting, I proposed a resolution protesting to the 
world against the foul blow struck at our two colleagues, 
with the manifest object of breaking up the Mansion 
House Conference, Mr. Dillon protested hotly : " That 
is a monstrous Sinn Fein resolution ; I will have nothing 
to do with it. What evidence have we before 
us ? " The " evidence," one might suppose, was 
rather due from the official concocters of the Plot. It 
was forthcoming only too promptly for them in the 
declaration of the retiring Lord Lieutenant, Lord 
Wimborne, that he had never heard of the famous 
" New German Plot," and flatly disbelieved the whole 
story. When long afterwards, Lord French was 
forced to disgorge his only " evidence," it turned out 
that " the New German Plot " was a stale rehash of 
certain communications with Germany prior to the 
Easter Week Insurrection of more than two years 

The coup cTe'tat did not break up the National 


Cabinet. The places of the two abducted Sinn Fein 
leaders were quietly taken by two of their colleagues — 
Prof. Eoin MacNeill and Aid. Tom Kelly. But by 
this time there had occurred a new event which 
rendered the hopes of any larger National Unity 
darker and darker. A vacancy having occurred in 
East Cavan, Mr. Griffith had been put forward as a 
candidate, and Mr. Dillon started an obscure local 
Hibernian against him. He did something very much 
more discreditable ; he refused to move the writ, and, 
under cover of his technical power of obstructing an 
immediate election, flooded the county with Hibernian 
organizers of the old truculent type, and proposed to 
carry on a campaign of bitter personal abuse and 
violence against Sinn Fein until such time as the 
organizers should report it safe to issue the writ. Mr. 
Griffith explained what was happening in a letter 
written to me a few days before his deportation to 
England by Field-Marshal French : 


6 Harcourt St., Dublin, 

May nth, 1918. 

Dear Mr. O'Brien, — As you will have seen from 
the press Mr. Dillon has refused my offer of a 
referendum of the people on the election for East 
Cavan. At the same time he refuses to have the writ 
moved, but he is pouring into East Cavan all the 
thugs connected with his organisation. As his speech 
last Sunday showed, he is determined to make this a 
bitter election and to prolong it indefinitely. 

Such a prolongation will be disastrous to the 
constituency from the National view-point. If the 
election be fought now, there will be little bitterness 
left behind. If it be prolonged, as Dillon seeks to 
prolong it, there will be feud and faction. 

I am advised, as by enclosed from lawyers on our 
side, that two M.P.s certifying to the Speaker during 


the recess the death of a fellow member can force the 
issue of the writ. I would be obliged, therefore, if 
you would yourself or by two members of your party 
have the writ issued in this fashion. 

I trust Mrs. O'Brien is better. 
Yours sincerely, 

Arthur Griffith." 

We, of course, promptly exercised our power of 
defeating the Hibernian manoeuvre to prevent an 
election and were in hopes that the foul play practised 
against Mr. Griffith by the inventors " of the New 
German Plot " would avert all danger of the scandal 
of a contested election at such a moment in Cavan. 
At the next meeting of the Mansion House Conference 
I pointed out what a mortal blow would be struck at 
the resistance to Conscription (as to which the Govern- 
ment was still anxiously calculating the chances) if 
a Nationalist Constituency were to reject a man who 
had just been gagged and deported by Dublin Castle 
for the verv reason that he was one of the chief 
organizers of the resistance, and I appealed to Mr. 
Dillon in the most conciliatory terms at my command 
to do a signal service to National Unity, and one that 
would be remembered to the credit of his Party, by 
allowing Mr. Griffith to be returned unopposed. 
The reply was that he had come there on an invitation 
to discuss the Conscription issue, and that alone, and 
would withdraw from the Conference if any other 
topic was introduced. He went off to Cavan to war 
upon his imprisoned colleague, flushed with the 
results of the two most recent elections (in South 
Armagh, the cradle of " the Mollies " and in Waterford 
where Mr. Redmond's son had been returned in his 
place through a humane feeling more delicate than he 
had experienced from his own friends in his last visit 
to the hall of the " Irish Convention ") and full of the 
fatuous confidence that the triumph was going to be 
repeated on a more grandiose scale in East Cavan. 


Here are the terms in which he saw fit to speak 
during the electioneering campaign of his deported 
colleague on the Mansion House Conference : 

" The Sinn Fein party have elected to put forward 
as a candidate for East Cavan the most offensive and 
scurrilous critic of the Irish Party in their ranks. 
For a long period Mr. Griffith has poured forth a 
torrent of the most disgusting and infamous abuse and 
calumny on the Irish Party as a whole and upon 
individual members of that party and therefore it 
would have been impossible to pick out a candidate 
more calculated to add bitterness to that fight. In 
addition to that they have started their campaign by 
raising the most contentious issues that divide the 
Party from Sinn Fein and by pouring out a flood of 
misstatements and calumny upon the Party and its 

The curious student of Mr. Dillon's speeches will 
find that this " flood and torrent of disgusting and 
infamous abuse " constitutes almost word for word 
his stereotyped defence to specific allegations as to his 
Party's public actions which he never attempted to 
answer by going into equally concrete particulars. 

The charge of " scurrility " was a specially 
ludicrous one against Mr. Griffith who, of all the 
publicists of his time, was distinguished for the 
measure and dignity of his words. The real point 
of the Hibernian leader's vituperation was that Mr. 
Griffith had given to the public in his journal the 
series of secret telegrams in which the three members 
for Limerick were caught soliciting a Castle Office for 
one of their confederates by the most abject methods 
of the parliamentary place-beggar. Mr. Griffith had 
committed the still more unforgivable sin of giving 
publication to a highly confidential letter of Lady 
Aberdeen to " Dear Mr. Brayden " (the Editor of the 
Freeman's Journal, thirteen of whose staff had already 
been rewarded with handsome Government jobs) in 


which the Lord Lieutenant's wife revealed a spirit 
of political partisanship so undisguised that its publica- 
tion necessitated her husband's resignation of the 
Viceroyalty. Stern methods of political warfare, both 
of them, no doubt, but both of them referring to 
concerns of deep public interest, and both of them 
incontestably true ; and assuredly no more deserving 
the epithets of " scurrility," or of " torrents of the 
most infamous calumny," than Edmund Burke would 
have deserved them for his impeachment of Warren 
Hastings. Above all, the recklessness of such an 
attitude at such a moment towards a colleague locked 
up in an English jail on the strength of a truly " in- 
famous calumny " which might have cost him his life ! 

Where he might have reaped the gratitude of a 
nation, the new Hibernian leader only earned a just 
humiliation. Mr. Griffith was elected by an over- 
whelming majority for East Cavan, or Conscription 
would have been to a certainty pressed at any cost of 

One last effort was made to bend Mr. Dillon. 
The yearning cry still came from the country : " Why 
dissolve a National Cabinet, which has begun so well, 
and whose united lead every parish in the island will 
follow ? Why should not the Mansion House Con- 
ference confront English Ministers with a combination 
of the young men and the old, of the new weapons and 
the old, in a movement in which all honest men of the 
race could gladly venture their fortunes and their 
lives ? " It had become an accepted electioneering 
cry on both sides that there could be only two 
alternative policies for the country to choose between : 
what was called " the Constitutional movement " and 
what was called " the unconstitutional movement." 
Nothing could be more untrue to the realities of the 
case. All that had been won for Ireland in our time 
was won neither by constitutional means nor by 
unconstitutional means, pure and simple, but by a 


judicious combination of the two, according to the 
country's changing circumstances. That, indeed, had 
been the history of Irish patriotism for ages. The 
writer laid before the Mansion House Conference a 
detailed proposal to take advantage of their unexampled 
opportunity at that moment to find some wider basis 
of agreement on which all Parties might co-operate in 
their several ways. " If our Sinn Fein colleagues," 
it was urged, " can only see their way to even an 
experimental toleration of true Dominion Inde- 
pendence (which differs little except in name from 
Sovereign Independence) no substantial divergence 
would remain between Nationalists of any school, 
and it could be affirmed, not altogether without know- 
ledge, that, in England's present critical situation , 
Dominion Independence would become practical 
politics. Should, however, Dominion Independence 
by agreement be found impossible during the war, 
all Nationalists would in that event be in agreement 
to press for the only remaining alternative — viz., 
representation for Ireland at the Peace Congress — 
and would, I take it, be agreed also in breaking off 
all connection with the Westminister Parliament in 
the meantime." 

Was it still practicable to weld " constitutionalists " 
and " unconstitutionalists " together in a movement 
as circumspect as Parnell's and as daring as Easter 
Week ? It was not possible to answer dogmatically 
in the affirmative. But the omens were almost all 
auspicious. The representatives of Sinn Fein, 
although cordially sympathetic, had no authority to 
bind their body without anxious and complicated 
consultations. But there were as yet none of the 
obstacles that proved afterwards all but insur- 
mountable. There were no commitments to an 
Irish Republic, beyond Mr. De Valera's speeches in 
Clare ; there was no oath to trouble the consciences 
of the young men. Most of the Sinn Fein leaders 


were in prison and their newspapers suppressed, and 
those who remained were face to face with the ruthless 
military repression just announced by Lord French. 
Even in the electoral sense, Sinn Fein still only counted 
as 5 in a Nationalist representation of 81. The 
representatives of Labour would assuredly have closed 
with the proposition. The Bishops, fresh from the 
triumph of their perilous stand against Conscription, 
were not likely to miss the opportunity of doing 
another magnificent service to the nation. Mr. 
Devlin, though he hesitated to separate himself from 
Mr. Dillon so soon after he had separated himself 
from Mr. Redmond, was evincing unmistakeable 
signs of tractability. Only one voice was raised to 
forbid even a discussion of the project. Mr. Dillon 
could not find it in the bond. He once more pro- 
tested that he was brought there on the invitation 
of the Lord Mayor to discuss one solitary issue — 
Conscription — and would not stand the introduction 
of any other proposition ; and as it had been the 
somewhat improvident rule of the Conference to 
press no decision that was not to be an unanimous 
one, there was an end. 

An end, also, of the last hope of rehabilitating any 
" constitutional " movement capable of purification 
or of purchasing Ireland's freedom otherwise than by 
the shedding of streams of Ireland's best blood. The 
*' National Cabinet," like so many other projects of 
high promise for the nation, fell to pieces at the touch 
of one unluckv hand. 




For six months before the Convention came into 
being, the question whether the Parliamentary Move- 
ment could be preserved or was worth preserving 
had been agitating the minds of my colleagues and 

When the constancy of Cork — unique, so far as 
I know, in the electoral history of any country — 
compelled me to return to public life, against all my 
natural cravings to be once for all free from those 
little villainies of politics which no party and no 
country can hope altogether to shake off, I pledged 
myself not to withdraw again so long as Cork might 
want me. Events now succeeded each other which 
might well seem to absolve me from the pledge, and 
to show that the suppression of free speech by physical 
violence and in the newspapers which had drowned 
my voice in the rest of the country was beginning to 
invade the free field still left to me within the broad 
boundaries of the county and city of Cork. The City 
Municipal elections, the Co. Council elections, even 
the Parliamentary elections were beginning to go 
against the All-f or- Ireland League. These petty 
choppings and changings never disturbed in its depths 
the almost mystic bond between the masses of the 
people and myself, which indeed survives all permuta- 
tions and revolutions to this hour, if a thousand tender 
indications are not deceptive. An unpopularity which 
had to be laboriously organized and subsidised to 
make the slightest show and which in all these years 


did not succeed in seducing half a dozen renagadoes 
from our ranks whose names are worth recalling from 
oblivion was, for those who knew^a matter of infinitely 
small concern in itself. It, however, achieved two or 
three local successes sufficiently boisterous to enable 
malice, with some show of reason, to persuade the 
opportunists of Britain that the hall-a-million of pur 
sang Nationalists of the South who had hitherto stood 
fast by the policy of " Conference, Conciliation and 
Consent " against a world of discouragements, were 
at long last deserting their standard. 

How lying was the pretence, I took the first 
opportunity of putting to the test. Owing to 
intricacies of corrupt ward politics too scurvy for 
explanation here, the All-for-Ireland majority of the 
Corporation of Cork was displaced at the Municipal 
Elections in the beginning of 1914 and the victors in 
their intoxication boasted that Cork had gone over to 
the Hibernians and challenged me, in language of 
incredible scurrility to resign my seat and test at the 
polls whether the confidence of the people of Cork in 
me was not gone for ever. Under ordinary conditions, 
of course, the challenge would be dismissed with a 
smile. So effectual, however, had become for years 
the obstruction of the ordinary channels of public 
opinion that no means short of the figures at a con- 
tested election, or the verdict of a jury in an action for 
libel, were open to me to establish, in the eyes of the 
country at large, the falsehood of any specific accusa- 
tion amongst the imputations and insinuations daily 
showered upon my head. My readiness to avail 
myself of the most Democratic of all tests — that of an 
appeal to my constituents, since no other was left to 
me — actually came to be imputed as the most heinous 
item in my table of sins. This time, however, their 
tipsy insolence betrayed my adversaries into being 
themselves the challengers, and there was but one 
answer. I resigned my seat and presented myself 


for re-election on a programme expressly reiterating 
in every particular our proposals for the appeasement 
of Ulster. The vaunting challengers of a week before 
crept abjectly back into their burrows, and the great 
constituency of Cork — the largest and (perhaps not 
on that account alone) the most coveted in the country 
— re-elected me without an opposing voice. 

In the summer of the same year followed the 
elections for the Co. Councils and the District Councils 
— that is to say a few weeks after the representatives 
of Ireland had by their votes accepted the Amending 
Bill for the separation of the Six Counties and the 
All-for-Ireland group had made the one solitary 
protest that was heard from Ireland. Any one 
acquainted with all that the Irish people now know 
might suppose that it would be those who had just 
finally voted for Partition who would appear before 
their countrymen in sackcloth and ashes, and those 
whose protest had at least saved for the future Ireland's 
honour as a nation who would be greeted with the 
nation's gratitude. In the country's dire ignorance 
of what happened, it was the other way about. It was 
" The Party " redhanded from the crime of Partition 
who were acclaimed as the saviours of the country ; 
it was on the strength of the diabolical lie that we had 
11 voted against Home Rule " that some six hundred 
of our friends in the Co. Councils and District Councils 
of the South were arraigned as " factionists " and 
" traitors " ; and to the shame of Irish gullibility it 
was this outrageous electoral fraud that carried the 
day. The cry was only raised at the last moment 
when it was too late to make the bewildered electors 
aware of the truth, and by a verdict which the universal 
Irish race would now remorsefully recant, it was the 
mutilators of Ireland who were held justified, and it 
was the candidates of the group who alone had lifted 
a voice against the infamy who were borne down as 
traitors. The success of the Hibernians was of the 



narrowest, and could not have been achieved at all 
without the countenance of some half-a-dozen power- 
ful Catholic dignitaries who must have been sufficiently 
punished if they discovered the practices of the corrupt 
secret tyranny of which they made themselves the 
unconscious ministers. 1 But the mischief was done 
of persuading the rest of Ireland and the watchful 
politicians at Westminster that the last fortresses, 
hitherto immune from the power of the Board of 
Erin, had fallen. By no matter how narrow a majority, 
the local government of vast regions of the South was 
placed for the next seven years at the mercy of men 
who refused the smallest honour or office which their 
votes could deny to their brother Nationalists and 
more mischievously still, deprived the 30,000 Pro- 
testants of Cork of their solitary representative on the 
Co. Council — an All-for-Irelander of much local 
usefulness — who was ejected to the cry of " Crom- 
wellian Spawn ! " and " Orange Dog ! " The saddest 
thought of all was that results like this were a wicked 
libel upon the mass of the Southern Catholics who 
were, and are, kindliness and religious tolerance 

Our Parliamentary strongholds remained im- 
pregnable, but were not to remain so long. Our 
band at Westminster, thin as were its ranks, had all 
the advantages that compactness, mutual loyalty, and 
self abnegation could give it. Ours was a blithe and 
dauntless company whose beadroll it will always be a 
comfort to tell — the two Healys, Tim and Maurice, 
Parliament men of the first rank, who need play second 

1 One of our foremost candidates was tempted — in vain — by 
the offer of a Resident Magistracy. Another, who was rewarded 
with a Coronership, made this jaunty excuse for turning his coat : 
"|Of course, O'Brien is right, but he has no jobs to give." A 
third — a prosperous merchant, and one of the most upright of 
men — was sought to be intimidated by the awful threat (none 
the less shocking that it proved a telum imbelle sine ictu) that 
*' the grass would be made to grow opposite the door of his shop." 


to no living men, Irish or English, on the benches of 
the House of Commons — the one for brilliancy and 
the other for solidity ; Captain D. D. Sheehan, one 
who had turned more farmers into proprietors than 
the whole Hibernian Party put together, and had been 
one of the prime movers in the settlement of 50,000 
labourers in cosy cottages and allotments ; James 
Gilhooly, of Bantry, who represented the finest 
traditions of the old Fenian days, and had a place in 
the hearts of his constituents from which it used to 
be truly said, all the united power of Parneil and his 
captains could not dislodge him, had they ever chosen 
to try ; Eugene Crean, in whom the bitterest of our 
adversaries was ready to recognise " the heart's blood 
of an honest man," one with the tenderheartedness 
of a child and the fearlessness of a Nemean lion ; 
John Walsh, a merchant of eminence, with an un- 
surpassable knowledge of the people and of their 
affairs ; and " Paddy " Guiney, who brought into the 
movement the rough-rider breeziness and " pep " 
of American Democracy. Among the non-parliamen- 
tarians as well we were able to count upon towers 
of strength — Father Richard Barrett, the foremost 
of our clerical friends in mind and heart, who was 
untimely stricken with blindness, but to the day of 
his death remained for us a sort of sanctuary lamp 
whose internal light was one not to be extinguished ; 
Alderman J. C. Forde, who for twenty years had been 
the mainstay of Nationality in Cork in its successive 
phases — in arms or in the broadest spirit of Con- 
ciliation — and in all its phases was the organizer of 
victory, who never advertised, and the unshakeable 
friend, who was as constant when the heavens frowned 
as when the sun was at its meridian ; Jerry Howard 
and William McDonald, in turn chairmen of County 
Council, who were the real rulers of a province and were 
governing its affairs with a wisdom and geniality full 
of joyous promise for the new race of native owners 


who were beginning to be the possessors of the land ; 
Mr. Joseph Hosford, the typical Protestant All-for- 
Irelander, whose steadfastness justified my warmest 
faith in our Protestant countrymen, had they only 
imitated his outspokenness in the acceptable time ; 
Mr. Laurence Casey, the founder of the National 
Insurance Association in Dublin, reliable as his 
ancestral " Boys of Wexford," who made the name 
of 'Ninety-Eight immortal and straight as the pike- 
staffs twelve feet long with which they drove home 
their thrusts ; Mr. Dan O 'Donovan of Limerick, 
afterwards barbarously murdered by the Black-and- 
Tans — where am I to stop in a gazette that can only 
contain one out of as many thousands of devoted 
friends, the bare echo of whose names makes my 
pulses still tingle ? 

So long as, with such auxiliaries as these, our title 
to speak for the fairest region of Nationalist Ireland — 
that which had been the focus of all previous struggles 
and was to be again the focus of the struggle that 
followed — could not be disputed, it was a duty to 
labour on against all odds until the remainder of the 
country could have an opportunity of understanding. 
In the midst of our own camp that title was now to be 
seriously compromised. The deaths of two of our 
members created vacancies during the critical months 
that followed our reverses at the County and District 
elections. In the first of these constituencies, none 
but an All-for-Irelander had any prospect of being 
elected ; but the evil Hibernian habit of regarding 
seats in Parliament as hereditary possessions had so 
far eaten its way into our own ranks, that the candidate 
returned, although an All-for-Irelander like his de- 
ceased brother, represented not so much a principle 
as the predominance of " a long-tailed family." A 
more calamitous breach was to follow before many 
months, and — a wayward fate would have it — as the 
result of the death of the member for West Cork, 


James Gilhooly, who was a friend as true as ever poet, 
sang of, and, like the old Fenian hero that he was, 
would have given his blood drop by drop rather than 
that the scramble for his seat should add to our 
thickening troubles. The absurd thing was that 
the chief disturber was a medical student from a 
Mental Hospital in Birmingham, who was an All-for- 
Irelander more orthodox than myself, and in that 
infallible faith proceeded to split the All-forlreland 
vote by standing motu proprio as a candidate himself. 
This, as the son of a doctor of much popularity in 
one of our most solid voting places (Schull), he was 
unfortunately in a position to do. 

The candidature of the crank from the Birmingham 
Mental Hospital was only one of the multiple signs of 
the demoralization and decomposition of the Parlia- 
mentary movement which the West Cork election was 
to exhibit. To the crazy rival candidate from Bir- 
mingham, more Catholic than the Pope — more All- 
for-Irelander than the All-for-Ireland League — was 
added a local Hibernian solicitor, who in defiance of 
Mr. Redmond's expressed public orders, persisted 
in profiting by the Split for parochial purposes of his 
own ; an Orange Sinn Feiner from Belfast, without 
any authority from Sinn Fein, who a couple of months 
afterwards reverted to the bitterest Orangeism ; and, 
to complete the incredible catalogue, a Bishop, more 
Redmondite than Mr. Redmond, who issued a mani- 
festo insisting that Mr. Redmond had not yet received 
a sufficiently blind trust from the country, but shortly 
after the election turned a violent Sinn Feiner himself, 
and from a violent Sinn Feiner reacted to denounce 
Sinn Fein more violently still and within the next 
few years was destined to undergo half a dozen new 
transmigrations — " everything by turns and nothing 
long " — from Sinn Fein to Anti-Sinn-Fein and back 
again in an equally nonsensical manner. To his 
Lordship belongs the triste glory of striking the last 
blow at the existence of the Parliamentary movement. 


It was Bishop Coholan's ill-advised intervention 
on the eve of the polling that turned a scale already 
heavily weighted enough against us. His electioneering 
harangue was all the more indefensible that it was 
delivered on the peculiarly solemn day of his Con- 
secration, and on the occasion of a purely religious 
presentation to him, by a deputation more than half 
of whom — had he, an eminent Maynooth scholiarch, 
unversed in the ways of the world or of politics, only 
known it — were enthusiastic All-for-Irelanders as well 
as fervid Catholics. How distressing the episode was 
may be judged from the fact that the Bishop's own 
elder brother — a Canon of the Diocese and Parish 
Priest of Bantry — who had been and remained one 
of the foremost friends of the All-for-Ireland League 
in West Cork, felt it his duty to quit the assembly 
while the glorification of an utterly discredited 
Hibernianism was in progress. The pronounce- 
ment of the new Bishop, however, had its effect upon 
a number of the younger priests who were making 
up their minds to forsake the falling fortunes of 

Our candidate was Mr. Frank Healy, a barrister 
still interned in England, who was chosen because 
he seemed to combine the conciliatory spirit of an 
All-for-Irelander with something of the romantic 
charm of Sinn Fein. He had been snapped up in the 
wild orgy of Martial Law that followed the Rising of 
Easter Week, although everybody except the Court- 
martial knew that with that enterprise he had no 
relations, overt or secret. He was still under the 
restrictions of a conditional internment in Bourne- 
mouth, and his attempt to obtain leave to visit the 
constituency before the election gave rise to a stroke 
of governmental foul-play, which was the crowning 
disgrace of the foul practices from all sides of which 
we were the victims. That crafty financier, Mr. 
Herbert Samuel, who had fobbed off the fearful and 


wonderful finances of the Home Rule Bill on the 
Hibernian Party, was guilty of a piece of execrably 
bad taste in an endeavour to compensate them. In 
collusion with a questioner from the Hibernian 
benches, he insinuated that, in his application to him, 
as Home Secretary, for permission to vist West Cork 
for the election campaign, Mr. Frank Healy had 
really been putting in an abject petition for mercy, 
and the calumny was emphasized in scare headings 
in the Board of Erin Press and placarded at every 
cross-roads in the constituency. Finally, in this most 
topsy-turvy of contests, it fell out that the Protestant 
farmers and their clergymen, who formed a con- 
siderable element of the constituency, voted against 
Mr. Frank Healy because he was a Sinn Feiner and 
the Sinn Fein priests because he was not. 

" For a' that, an' a' that " — the Bishop's unseemly 
intervention, an' a' that — the votes actually cast for 
All-for-Ireland were 2,120 as against 1,868 for the 
candidate of the Board of Erin, being an All-for- 
Ireland majority of 252. But 370 of the All-for- 
Ireland votes having been thrown away upon the 
candidate of the Birmingham Mental Hospital, the 
Hibernian was enabled to succeed, as a minority 
member, by a majority of 118. Mr. Redmond (who 
had deprecated the contest in West Cork) was so 
transported by this sorry triumph as to brag in England 
that " there was no longer any alternative policy before 
the country, nor even an alternative leader " ; Mr. 
Dillon, with the perspicacity that never failed him, 
saw in the return of the minority member the first 
flush of a second spring of popularity for " The 
Party." My own reading of the event, in my remarks 
at the declaration of the poll in Bantry, if less poetic, 
was to be more tragically justified : 

" They (All-for-Irelanders) had done their part 
by Ireland so long as even the stump of a sword was 
left in their hands against a combination of influences 


from the Extreme Right to the Extreme Left such as 
might well have discouraged the stoutest hearts. . . . 
It would be idle to minimise the gravity of the decision 
of yesterday, although, as the figures proved it was 
only come to by a minority of the electors who voted, 
and although it was due to influences which they all 
understood in Ireland but which would be fatally 
misunderstood in England. All he could hope was 
that the result would not mark the end of any honest 
constitutional movement for our time, and that those 
electors of West Cork who had done the mischief 
would not have reason to lament their work for many 
a bitter year to come." 

The West Cork election turned out to be, truly, 
the death-blow of the Parliamentary movement. It 
was the last time the chaste war-cry of the Hibernians : 
" Up, the Mollies ! " was ever heard in triumph in 
the South. A week or two afterwards, Mr. Asquith 
after long fumbling threw down the reins of power. 
That extraordinary menage a trots — Mr. Lloyd George, 
Mr. Bonar Law and Sir E. Carson — were installed 
in his room without a protesting voice from the 
Hibernian benches. The Home Rule of the Glad- 
stone tradition was at an end for ever. It will always 
be open to debate, whether, had the result in West 
Cork gone the other way, it might not have been still 
possible to regenerate what was loosely called " the 
constitutional movement " by a combination of the 
principles of Conciliation as between creeds and 
classes, which was before long to carry all before it 
in the minds of all enlightened Irishmen, with the 
young energy and purity of purpose represented by 
Sinn Fein. The Irish Republic was still unheard of, 
save for its meteor flight in Easter Week. While the 
Sinn Fein internees in the English prisons sternly 
resented any aid from the Parliamentarians whose 
leader had " expressed his horror and detestation " 
of the rebels awaiting their doom at the hands of Sir 


John Maxwell's Courts-martial, I received, while the 
West Cork campaign was still in progress, two letters 
signed by the leaders of the 600 internees at Frongoch 
(among the signatories being those of Mr. Richard J. 
Mulcahy, the subsequent Minister of Defence in the 
Republican Cabinet and of the " Head Campleader," 
Mr. Michael Staines, afterwards one of the members 
for Dublin in Ddil Eireann) invoking my aid in the 
exposure of their prison treatment. When one or 
two Republican madcaps in Cork secretly confederated 
with the Hibernians in wrecking the candidature of 
their brother-internee, Mr. Frank Healy, one of the 
earliest pioneers of Sinn Fein , I received a message from 
Mr. Arthur Griffith, the future President of the Irish 
Provisional Government, dated from Reading Jail, 
where a large body of Sinn Fein prisoners were de- 
tained, expressing on behalf of all his brother-prisoners, 
with one exception, their reprobation of these unholy 

" Re our friend Frank Healy," Mr. Griffith said, 
" I think the whole business has been hideously mis- 
managed by our friends Pirn, 1 Tom Curtin and others. 
Tom Curtin's pronouncement was an entirely un- 
authorised statement and has caused considerable 
annoyance among us. I think Sinn Fein should have 
remained absolutely aloof and I fear that not doing so 
will be the cause of lamentable confusion and mischief. 
What I have said concerning Tom Curtin's pronounce- 
ment you may convey to all whom it may concern." 

Even the hotheads who were ready for any com- 
bination against Parliamentarianism were so far from 
being animated by any personal hostility to myself, 
that they defended their wrecking morals upon the 
queer ground that I was the only man of the old school 
sufficiently respected to give Parliamentarianism an- 

1 The Orange Sinn Feiner who was in a few weeks to relapse 
into the faith of an Orange Anti-Sinn Feiner, more virulent than 


other chance with honest Irishmen. As a matter of 
fact, the young men of the West Cork Division paid 
no heed to their whispers and remained pathetically 
true to our beaten side. But looking back more coolly 
now upon the chaos and distraction of the public mind 
against which we were contending, one is forced to 
recognize that the canker had eaten too deeply into 
Irish public life to be cured except by some sharper 
surgery than it was any longer in our power to apply. 
Everywhere the most level-headed of the old believers 
in Conciliation began to report to us that nothing could 
prevent their sons from becoming Sinn Feiners, adding 
as often as not : " And, to tell you the truth, we are 
becoming a sort of Sinn Feiners ourselves." And 
so it was everywhere. The youth of the country felt 
the sap of a glorious springtime fermenting within 
them. West Cork, which even at that late date would 
have stood fast by a policy of peaceful conciliation, 
had not the appointed ministers of peace aimed the 
last blow at it, gave up the hope to dream of the 
Republic, even if it had to be sought by meeting 
England in battle array. The fact tells its own tale 
that, in the desperate insurrectionary years that were 
to follow, West Cork was the headquarters of a re- 
sistance to the Black-and-Tans and all their bloody 
aiders and abettors, perhaps more widespread and 
more unconquerable than in any other district in the 
country. Mr. Herbert Samuel and his wise brother 
Ministers crushed the All-for-Ireland League only 
to be obliged to sue for peace to Michael Collins — 
himself a West Corkman and a West Cork Deputy — 
and make him Prime Minister of the country they set 
out to whip into subjection. 





The General Election which the war had enabled the 
Hibernian Party to evade for three years beyond the 
normal term smote them at last in November, 19 18. 
The determination of my colleagues and myself had 
been formed as the result of the West Cork election 
of two years before, and only awaited the approaching 
Dissolution to be put into execution. Our conclusion 
was not to allow ourselves to be nominated for re- 
election to the English Parliament. In the words of 
my own address to my constituents : " The Irish 
people in general, in tragic ignorance of what they were 
being led to do, remained silent while I was being 
deprived of all power of interfering with effect in Irish 
affairs. ... So far as the platform and the newspaper 
press were concerned, my position has long been that 
of a man buried alive and striving in vain to make his 
voice reach the ears of his countrymen." In these 
circumstances, there was nothing for it but frankly to 
recognize " that our efforts to reform the Parliamentary 
movement upon an honest basis must — under present 
conditions, at all events — be abandoned, and that 
those who have saved (and who alone could have 
saved) the country from Partition, from Conscription 
and from political corruption ought now to have a full 
and sympathetic trial for their own plans for enforcing 
the Irish nation's right of Self-determination." Mr. 
T. M. Healy in endorsing this conclusion, quoted : 
" two sentences in your exposure of the debauch- 
ment of the Parliamentary movement which strike me 


as setting a datum line by which the general body of 
Nationalists may guide their course. You say : ' We 
cannot subscribe to a programme of armed resistance 
in the field, or even of permanent withdrawal from 
Westminster, but to the spirit of Sinn Fein, as distinct 
from its abstract programme, the great mass of inde- 
pendent and single-minded Irishmen have been won 
over.' Of the ' ruined politicians ' still clinging to 
power, and their policies, you foretell that ' their 
successors cannot by any conceivable possibility do 
worse.' " 

That was why we could not conscientiously throw 
ourselves into the Sinn Fein ranks. It was not 
Parliamentary methods, but rotten Parliamentary 
methods, that had broken down. That was also 
why we conceived it a duty to remove all obstacle on 
our part to the mandate of the country, as between 
the disgraced Hibernians and the only force in the 
country capable of coping with them, being as decisive 
as that which in 1884 empowered Parnell to overthrow 
a Parliamentary majority less baleful. Before the 
World-War, the rawest schoolboy would have laughed 
at the suggestion of an armed struggle with the might 
of England. The Sinn Fein movement, so long as it 
was directed by Mr. Arthur Griffith, never contem- 
plated a rising in arms. Even its own programme of 
a pacific withdrawal from Westminster failed to 
command on its merits the approval of a single con- 
stituency. It was Sir E. Carson's example in drilling 
and arming with impunity a vast Ulster army to resist 
the law of Parliament which first inspired the young 
men of the South with the emulation to go and do 
likewise. But it was President Wilson's promulgation 
of the doctrine of the sovereign right of the small 
nationalities to shape their own future on the principle 
of Self-determination — above all, it was the necessity 
imposed upon Mr. Lloyd George to welcome that 
principle with seeming enthusiasm in order to ensure 


the entrance of the United States into the war — which 
once for all fixed in the mind of the youth of Ireland 
the feasibleness as well as the dignity of a demand for 
liberty arms in hand, in contrast with Parliamentary 
methods which had become a byword for failure and 

It must be owned that none of us measured truly 
the growth of the new spirit until the Rising of Easter 
Week revealed as in a lightning flash how dauntless 
it was, and how deeply it had entered into possession 
of the nation's soul. The original literature of Sinn 
Fein was contributed by half a dozen poets and 
journalists who readily accepted the description of 
" intellectuals " accorded to them by admiring English 
prints. They were not content with comtemning 
the poor work-a-day politicians who transferred the 
land to the people and three times over forced their 
way to the very last rampart between Ireland and 
Home Rule. They went to the ludicrous length of 
despising because it was " intelligible " the poetry of 
Thomas Davis, which was so grossly " intelligible " 
that it has roused the hearts of two generations of 
Irishmen like a burst of trumpets. They actually 
proposed the De — Davisisation of Ireland (the phrase 
is that of the intellectuals) as an adventure of the 
highest literary distinction. The insincerity of these 
precieux and consequently their futility may be illus- 
trated by a story of perhaps the most distinguished 
of their number, the ill-fated poet Synge, as related 
by another and more delicate dreamer, Mr. W. B. 
Yeats : "I once asked him : ' Do you write from 
hatred of Ireland or for love of her ?' and he answered : 
1 That is just what I often ask myself.' " 

With the single exception of Mr. Griffith, always 
a man of sound sense as well as high purpose, the 
intellectuals were frondeurs who found a superior 
virtue in disclaiming any part in the hard battles which 
had restored the ownership of the soil to the people 


and given them the command of the whole machinery 
of local government, and which threw open the road 
to every victory that has followed since. 1 They only 
succeeded in limiting an influence which might have 
been widespread to their own small circle in Dublin. 
They had discredited Sinn Fein in the eyes of common 
men with such fatal effect that the movement had all 
but ceased to exist when by a bizarre blunder of 
English pressmen, it found its name of Sinn Fein 
transferred to the wholly different armed organization 
which had its baptism of fire in Easter Week. These 
distressingly ineffectual writings were not of a kind to 
dispel the discouraging conviction which was creeping 
over my once sanguine self that, in the rank demoraliza- 
tion in which the placeman and the place beggar throve 
apace, there was no longer to be found a body of Irish- 
men who really thought Ireland worth dying for. To 
the amaze of the older generation, it turned out that 
such men were to be counted bv the thousand, and of 
the very flower of the race — men for whom patriotism 
was a holy religion — who were as eager for death for the 
" Little Black Rose " in the firing line or on the 
gallows as were the Christian Martyrs for the embrace 
of the beasts in the Colosseum. We had not kept 
pace with the newer school of the Pearses and the 
O'Rahillys and MacDonaghs who had replaced the 
dilettanti, and who in half a dozen obscure sheets were 
inditing a new testament of which self-immolation 
for Ireland was the chief of the beatitudes, and in the 
very wilderness where all noble purpose seemed to 
have perished were raising up a generation whose 
disinterestedness, whose sobriety of character, whose 
almost incredible gift for combining action with 

1<£ The task of William O'Brien's generation was well and 
bravely done. Had it not been so the work men are carrying 
out in this generation would have been impossible. In that 
great work none of Parnell s lieutenants did so much as Mr. 
William O'Brien." — Arthur Griffith in Young Ireland, June, 1920. 


idealism were to sweeten the air with the efflorescence 
of a divine springtime of the Gael. Not alone had the 
coal of fire of the prophet touched their tongues ; in the 
administrative work of the country which, in spite of 
the brutalities of Martial Law was steadily falling into 
their hands, they were developing a capacity and an 
impartiality of outlook which put their elderly critics 
of the old order to shame. 

Aimlessly to stand in the way of such a reformation 
would have been to dash the country's last hope. 
Nobody doubted that, had it come to a series of tri- 
angular battles, we should have in more than one 
instance outpaced both the Sinn Fein candidate and 
the Hibernian, or, indeed, induced the Sinn Feiners 
to desist from opposition to our re-election ; but 
vainglory apart the only result would have been to 
confuse the public mind and probably enable the 
Hibernians to return in numbers that would have 
paralysed the power of reform for the term of another 
Parliament. It is not perhaps excessive to claim that 
it was in a large degree the self-effacement of the All- 
for-Irelanders which put it in the power of the country, 
upon the straightest of issues, to return a verdict which 
was an unmistakeable and an overpowering one. 
The unopposed return on the first day for nomination 
of Sinn Feiners for each of the seven Divisions of the 
vast county of Cork, followed by the defeat, by a 
majority of more than 13,000, of the Hibernian can- 
didates who were rash enough to await the polling 
in the City, let loose an avalanche underneath which 
the whole fabric of the Board of Erin tyranny lay 
buried when the elections were over. The Party 
which went to the country 73 strong came back 7, 
which, by an ironical coincidence, happened to be one 
less than the number of the All-f or- Ireland group they 
had so often rallied on its littleness. The measure of 
their defeat did not stop there. Only two of the 
seven survivors were elected by the free votes of Irish 


constituencies : Captain Redmond, who was re- 
elected in Waterford as a tribute of respect for his 
father's memory and Mr. Devlin, whose power in the 
Hibernian district of West Belfast was still considerable. 
Of the remaining five, one (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was 
elected for an English constituency, and the four others 
only succeeded in virtue of a compromise insisted upon 
by the Ulster Bishops by which, in certain doubtful 
constituencies, there was an exchange of seats between 
Sinn Feiners and Hibernians in order to avoid the 
success of the Orangemen in triangular contests. 

The completeness of the overthrow was variously 
accounted for. The Hibernian theory that it was the 
shooting of twenty of the rebel leaders by Sir John 
Maxwell that turned over a whole people from fanatical 
allegiance to the Board of Erin before the Rebellion 
to fanatical allegiance to Sinn Fein after its defeat was 
of a piece with the rest of the foolish miscalculations 
of the doomed Party. The claim of Sinn Fein 
that the General Election meant a conscious and 
deliberate establishment of the Irish Republic by 
the main body of the voters was, I think, a 
greatly exaggerated one, also. The Sinn F£in 
candidates put forward no rigid Republican pro- 
gramme — in fact, put forward no programme at 
all. I can answer for the half-a-million All-for- 
Irelanders, who turned the scale in the South that the 
issue for or against a Republic did not even cross their 
minds as a supreme decision binding them for the 
future. For the overwhelming mass of Irish opinion 
it was a choice between a Party corrupted, demoralized 
and effete, who had misused in the interest of an 
English Party the most irresistible power ever held by 
Irish hands — who, for the sake of establishing for 
themselves a boundless monopoly of patronage in 
Dublin, had conspired to separate nearly a fourth of 
the country into an Orange Free State — between a 
Party who to the cries of " Trust Asquith ! " " Trust 


Redmond ! " and " Up, the Mollies ! " had for years 
led the most ignorant and credulous of the masses 
shamefully astray, and had held the most enlightened 
part of public opinion powerless to express itself by 
an unheard of tyranny of violence, bribery and Press 
manipulation — and on the other hand a band of 
enthusiasts, young, gallant and clean of heart, of whom 
all they knew was that whatever mistakes they might 
make would be those of a too passionate love of Ireland, 
and who would at the least clear the road of the future 
by disencumbering it of a Parliamentary imposture 
which was ending in putrefaction. The country did 
not opt for any particular form of government, but 
did unquestionably transfer its confidence to the new 
men who were to frame it. 

" The Party " was as dead as Julius Caesar, but 
even in their ashes lived their wonted incapacity 
to understand wholesome Irish feeling. Captain 
Redmond, intoxicated by his family success in Water- 
ford, blithely undertook from the hustings that he 
and Mr. Devlin were about to proceed on a pilgrimage 
from constituency to constituency throughout the 
island to reclaim the erring ones from their heresy, 
but no more was heard of the crusade of the twin 
Peters the Hermits. A defeated candidate in Ros- 
common — one Mr. Hayden — founded a brand new 
Home Rule Association of his own with thrilling 
proclamations through the Freeman that it was about 
to sweep the country ; but after three meetings the 
Association and the speeches in the Freeman expired. 
Mr. Dillon had no sooner pulled himself together 
after his monumental overthrow in East Mayo than 
the ex-M.P. addressed an encyclical to some ghostly 
Branch raised from the dead for the occasion pre- 
dicting that " before six months " the country would 
have returned to its allegiance to " The Party " and 
the rightful King would have come by his own again. 
He ought not indeed to have needed the reminder 
how sadly his prophetic stock had fallen on the National 



discount market for he must have received thousands 
of such reminders from the unpurchased tenants and 
the beggared shareholders of the Freeman who were 
beginning to haunt his doorstep. He had foretold 
that the Purchase Act of 1903 would land the country 
in bankruptcy and lo ! the Freeman office was the only 
conspicuous venue the bankruptcy messenger had 
visited, while the tenants he had forbidden to purchase 
were now putting forth sighs from broken hearts for 
the opportunity of purchasing which was no longer 
available. 1 He had predicted that if the Act of 1903 
were permitted to work there would be an end of the 
National movement in six months and behold ! among 
the heroes of the rebellion thirteen years afterwards 
the sons of the new occupying owners were among 
the foremost. He now added a new prophecy with 
the advantage that it was one calculated to fulfil itself. 
It was that Sinn Fein had destroyed for ever the 
sympathy of America with Ireland and the shaft was 
barbed by reference to an incident much paraded in 
the anti-Irish press, in the course of which some 
children in a western village wishing to tear down a 
British flag carried by the children of local British 
recruits by accident tore down also a Stars and Stripes, 
whose folds were mingled with those of the Union 
Jack. The unworthy appeal to American prejudice 
was so little heeded that American funds poured into 
the Sinn Fein exchequer in greater volume than had 
been subscribed in all the years since the Land League 
put together. 

If there was anything wanting to complete the 
contempt for Parliamentary methods, it was the 
insignificance of the surviving Seven in the succeeding 
Parliament, when the Coalition passed Mr. Lloyd 
George's Partition Act of 1920 formally establishing 
the two rival Parliaments of " Northern Ireland 

1 As this book goes to Press the Free State Ministry have sum- 
moned a new Land Conference of landlords and tenants to try to 
resuscitate Land Purchase, destroyed by the Hibernian Act of 1909. 


and " Southern Ireland." With the whole force of 
the Labour Party and the remnant of the " Wee 
Free " Liberal Party saved from the shipwreck at 
their backs, they might have offered an all but 
irresistible opposition to that infamous measure, 
forced upon Ireland without the sanction of a single 
Irish vote, Northern or Southern. The trouble was 
that Mr. Devlin denouncing Partition was in the 
position of Arius denouncing Arianism. If he now 
affected to hold out for " an undivided Ireland " he 
was met with the retort that the Partition Act was only 
the formal enactment of the " Headings of Agree- 
ment " he and his late Party and his late Liberal Prime 
Minister had collectively bargained for; if he pro- 
tested (as he now plaintively did) his conversion to the 
doctrine of an Irish settlement by the commingling of 
Irishmen of all racial and religious origins, he laid 
himself open to the taunts of the tardiness of his 
conversion since the days when shouts of " our here- 
ditary enemies I" and " Black-blooded Cromwellians ! " 
were hurled at every Irish Protestant Unionist 
who extended a fraternal hand, and of his own 
special recipe of " ordering the police and military 
to stand aside and make a ring," while he was disposing 
of the Ulster difficulty in the streets of Belfast. 
Accordingly he and his Liberal friends could think 
of nothing better than majestically to withdraw 
altogether from the Committee stage of the Partition 
Bill and by that stroke of genius left Sir E. Carson 
free to gerrymander at his sweet will Mr. Devlin's 
own constituency of West Belfast, in such a manner 
that the Nationalist Division of the Falls Road was 
swamped by the addition of two undiluted Orange 
Divisions. When he and his brother withdrawers 
came back to register a last impassioned demand for 
" an Undivided Ireland " on the Third Reading, it 
was to find that he had been effectually gerrymandered 
out of the Imperial Parliament for life, and the last nail 
driven in the coffin of the Board of Erin Ascendancy. 




Apologists for the infamies perpetrated by " the 
Black and Tans," under the instructions of British 
Ministers, have striven hard to represent these as 
" reprisals " for provocations more infamous still. 
The men they warred upon were a " murder gang " 
who began by the wholesale assassination of defence- 
less police men and soldiers, and the amiable guardians 
of the peace whom Sir Hamar Greenwood picked out 
from the offscourings of a demobilised army only came 
to the rescue of society by " taking the assassins by 
the throat." It would not be easy for impudence to 
invent a grosser reversal of the true sequence of events. 
M The murder gang " was a nation engaged in putting 
bloodlessly in practice the right of " self-determination 
for the small nations," by the promulgation of which 
England had won the war, and it was the British 
statesmen who had just rewarded with their liberty 
the revolted subjects of Austria for throwing off their 
allegiance, who started a war of brute force against 
their Irish subjects for following the example. 

There were two distinct phases in the warfare 
which ended in the surrender of Mr. Lloyd George 
and Sir Hamar Greenwood ; and in both it was 
England which was the aggressor. In the first phase 
(1917-* 1 8) they were dealing with a nation peacefully 
exercising the right of self-determination ; in the 
second (i9i8-'2i) with an Irish Republican Army 
whom they had deliberately goaded and forced into 
action. From the time when the General Election 
had invested Sinn Fein with unchallenged authority 
as the spokesmen of their nation, they proceeded, as 


was their indisputable right under the new law of 
nations, to supersede English rule by inducing the 
local governing bodies to renounce any connection 
with Dublin Castle and by organizing a volunteer 
police force and Arbitration Courts to enforce a law 
and order and a system of public justice of their own, 
leaving the garrisons and Royal Irish Constabulary 
of England in isolated impotence within their barrack 
walls. It was a scheme of " peaceful penetration " 
of singular daring, and by reason of its very blood- 
lessness was succeeding with a celerity which drove 
the choleric soldiers and bureaucrats of Dublin Castle 
to distraction. The insufferable offence was that the 
Royal Irish Constabulary was mysteriously melting 
away under their eyes by voluntary resignation. 

The shrewdest blow aimed at English rule by the 
Sinn Fein leaders was the disorganization of that 
redoubtable force. The Constabulary were the nerve- 
track by which Dublin Castle transmitted its orders 
to and received its information from the remotest 
parishes in the country ; the network of espionage 
that penetrated every household ; the army which 
had its detachment ready in every village to lay its 
heavy hand on the first stirrings of disaffection. It 
was assuredly the break-up of these village garrisons 
that eventually deprived the central government of 
its eyes and ears and hands, and the regular army 
forces which replaced them, irresistible though they 
were against armed opposition in the field, could but 
stagger about blindly in dealing with the hidden local 
forces respecting which the Constabulary could once 
have put them in possession of the most accurate 
particulars of place and persons. But it is a per- 
version of the truth to pretend that it was by violence 
and assassination the Royal Irish Constabulary was 
broken up. What dismayed the Castle authorities 
most was that, on the contrary, the process was 
throughout the years 1917 and 191 8 a bloodless one. 


working within the body like some obscure epidemic ; 
it sprang largely from the fact that the enthusiasm 
with which the rest of their countrymen were inflamed 
was infecting the younger and more generous-hearted 
of the Force, and no doubt, also, from the sharp 
pressure of local opinion upon their relatives in the 
country, and of those relatives themselves for whom 
it became an intolerable disgrace that men of their 
blood should stand in the way of the universal National 
uprising. It will be found that, long before the cruel 
individual assassinations that subsequently nearly 
decimated the Royal Irish Constabulary, some 2,500 
of its best men had voluntarily resigned their con- 
nection with a service that had become hateful, and 
it was the dread that thousands more were on the point 
of imitating their example that drove the advisers of 
Sir Hamar Greenwood to endeavour to stop the 
degringolade by flooding the Irish Force with the 
infamous " Black and Tans," and thereby involved 
the Constabulary in the hell of barbarities and re- 
prisals through which the rest of their countrymen 
were forced to pass. History will establish it as one 
of the fundamental truths of those awful times that 
it was not the assassinations which brought the Black 
and Tans, but the Black and Tans who gave the signal 
for the assassinations, and that, of course, even the 
Black and Tans were less culpable than their pay- 

There was another motive, baser still, for hastening 
to kill the process of peaceful self-determination before 
it was completed. In 19 18 the General Election was 
pending. Sinn Fein was busy with its arrangements 
for a trial of strength on whose upshot it would depend 
whether or not Sinn Fein could speak as the authorized 
fiduciary of the nation. The old Hibernian Party 
was still no less busy, and was little less sanguine of 
its chances. The Hibernian successes in West Cork,. 
Waterford and Armagh — the last that visited their 


banners — had rilled them with the most extravagant 
hopes. One need not assume that Mr. Dillon, who 
still retained some portion of the influence which 
had made him the principal adviser of the Castle 
before the Easter Week rebellion, had anything to say 
to the measures now taken by the official wirepullers. 
But the Hibernians still held 74 seats, and anything 
might happen at the polls. Accordingly, the Sinn 
Fein Director of Electioneering was snapped up, 
some of his principal assistants in the provinces were 
arrested and their confidential documents confiscated, 
and the most dreaded of the Sinn Fein candidates 
and organizers were kidnapped and shut up in In- 
ternment Camps. The General Election might still 
be saved, if the Sinn Fein election arrangements could 
be sufficiently dislocated and the electors properly 
overawed. It all turned out, as anybody except the 
Tapers and Tadpoles of politics might have known. 
It did not alter the fate of the Hibernians at the 
General Election, but it did help to cripple the pacifi- 
cators in their way of working out self-determination 
and it made the war spirits of the I.R.A. the masters 
of the situation. 

The revolution by which the Royal Irish Con- 
stabulary was silently falling to pieces and their places 
taken by a Volunteer police, under whose protection 
new Courts of Justice were administering impartial 
fair play to Unionist and Nationalist alike, and the local 
government of the country carried on with astonishing 
efficiency and with absolute incorruptibility, was in 
reality only the legitimate application of those principles 
of self-determination which England and her Allies 
had consecrated in the Treaty of Versailles, and it was 
the knowledge that the Government of the country 
was slipping away from them, without armed rebellion, 
by the mere organized enforcement of the people's 
will, that impelled the bureaucrats of Dublin Castle, 
since the crimeless will of the people was proving too 


strong for them, to make the people's will itself the 
worst of crimes and let loose the dogs of war to put 
it down with bloody tooth and claw. 

In May 191 8 Lord Wimborne was succeeded by 
Lord French as Viceroy and Sir Edward Duke by Mr. 
Shortt as Chief Secretary. It was not until January 
in the following year that the first shot was fired in 
what came to be known as the " murder campaign " 
against the R.I.C. when two constables escorting a 
waggon of gelignite were killed near Tipperary. The 
only pretext for first launching the new policy of blood 
and iron was one which is now known to be, at the 
best, a mare's nest, and at the worst a wicked invention 
— viz., the fresh " German Plot " of 19 18 which Field 
Marshal French proclaimed to England he had dis- 
covered, and on the strength of which the terrors of 
Martial Law were intensified and Mr. De Valera and 
Mr. Griffith deported to England from their seats at 
the Mansion House Conference against Conscription. 
The late Lord Lieutenant (Lord Wimborne) had 
never heard of " the Plot " ; Sir Bryan Mahon, the 
Commander-in-Chief, we know on the authority of 
Colonel Repington's book told the new Viceroy (Lord 
French) he flatly disbelieved the story ; when, after 
two years' refusal to produce the evidence on which 
it was based, the documents at last saw the light, they 
turned out to be a " crambe repetita " of negotiations 
which had taken place before the Rising of 191 6 with 
some sham " German Irish Society " in Berlin. 
Under cover of this bogus alarm, without a shadow 
of evidence to connect Messrs. De Valera and Griffith 
with these antiquated treasons, they were deported 
to England without any form of trial, with many 
hundreds of the more responsible Sinn Fein leaders 
as well ; newspapers were suppressed, public meetings 
broken up, and an endless series of prosecutions, 
followed by savage sentences, were instituted upon 
charges none of which involved bloodshed or armed 


hostilities of any kind — charges of wearing green 
uniforms, drilling, singing " The Soldier's Song," 
being found in possession of photographs of the Rebel 
leaders, taking part in the Arbitration Courts, either 
as Arbitrators, solicitors or clients and the like. The 
campaign was originally undertaken while Field- 
Marshal French's military operations for the enforce- 
ment of Conscription were complete, and in the 
fatuous hope that the removal of Messrs. De Valera 
and Griffith would break the back of the opposition. 
It was directed not against crime in any ordinary 
acceptation of the term, but against an intangible and 
omnipresent expression of the National will, which, 
however awkward for English military calculations, 
was directly authorized by President Wilson's charter 
of democratic liberty which enabled England to win 
the war. Cruel deeds of violence will never be entirely 
missing from ebullitions of the most fervid passions 
of men in resistance to unscrupulous oppression ; but 
in general it was the very peacefulness of the revolution 
which was silently superseding English Government 
in all its functions, dissolving its police, transforming 
its Courts of Justice, baffling its Conscription Act 
and rallying the allegiance of the people with one 
consent to a new National Government — this was 
the phenomenon which roused the ire of the 
Courtsmartial, and prompted the blunder-headed 
soldier at the Viceregal Lodge to strike harder 
and harder as he found his wild sabre-strokes against 
the will of a nation were in vain. The point to be 
retained is that it was many months after Sinn Fein 
had been deprived of its leaders and harried by a 
thousand persecutions of mere opinion and sentiment 
now confessed by England to be irrepressible, before 
the civic side of Sinn Fein was overborne, and the 
Irish Republican Army gradually allowed themselves 
to be goaded into a war of guerillas. 

A tremendous bribe of doubled and in some 


categories trebled pay staunched the flow of resignations 
in the Royal Irish Constabulary and stimulated the 
zeal of those who remained to earn promotion by the 
least reputable services against their countrymen. 
Nevertheless, although the Sinn Fein leaders were 
now driven more fixedly than ever to the conclusion 
that in striking at the R.I.C. they were striking at the 
brain and life-centre of English rule, the first months 
of the guerilla war were still free from the stain of 
individual assassinations, arsons and barbarities in 
which both sides were before long vieing. Con- 
siderable bodies of policemen and military who were 
captured in ambushes and in attacks upon police 
barracks were treated with soldierly courtesy, and 
their wives and children rescued from positions of 
danger. The members of the Dublin Metropolitan 
Police had no sooner refused to go about armed than 
they were left free from molestation throughout all 
the subsequent wars. It was not until an officer in 
high command made a round of the country Con- 
stabulary stations, and harangued the younger men 
in terms which had their first practical repercussion 
in the Thurles district of Tipperary, where constables 
maddened with drink dragged local Sinn Feiners from 
their beds and murdered them and set fire to their 
homes, that the Thurles police " reprisals " following 
the two murders near Tipperary began to be avenged 
by " counter-reprisals " no less savage on the other 
side. The mass of the rank and file, however, con- 
tinued to be Irishmen of too humane and Godfearing 
a character to be trusted as the executioners of 
atrocities like these upon men of their own blood 
and creed. The ferocity on both sides only reached 
a pitch never witnessed in Ireland before when Sir 
Hamar Greenwood hit upon the expedient of importing 
" the Black and Tans " to take the places of the re- 
signing R.I.C. and to infect with their own villainy 
the most evil elements left behind in the Irish Force. 


These unemployables of the demobilised army 
were in general desperadoes of the vilest type, ready 
for any deed of blood which their free license from 
Dublin Castle might present to them, and so true to 
their depraved origin that, not content with their 
wages of a guinea a day, they were not above snatching 
the purse of the wife of General Strickland, the Military 
Governor of Cork, in the principal street of that City. 
Whenever the detailed record of their operations comes 
to be drawn up, it will constitute a more ignoble 
chapter of murder, devastation, robbery and cruelty — 
mostly against defenceless elders, women and children 
— than all the black generations of Carews,Cromwells 
and Carhamptons had been able to contribute in the 
course of seven centuries to England's annals in 

To pile up evidence of the atrocities brought home 
to the military forces of the Crown would be to harrow 
the feelings of the humane to an insufferable degree 
and perhaps to do the English nation in general the 
injustice of imputing to them complicity in horrors 
which shall however long live to the shame of their 
responsible Ministers. It must suffice to give one 
sample out of thousands upon an authority that cannot 
be impeached. It is taken from the considered judg- 
ment of Judge Bodkin, who had been for fourteen 
years the respected Co. Court Judge of Clare, and 
whose fearless judicial calm, in face of armed force and 
baser official threats, forms one of the brightest records 
of that dire time : 

" It was proved before me, on sworn evidence in 
open Court, that on the night of September 22nd, the 
town of Lahinch was attacked by a large body of armed 
forces of the Government. Rifle shots were fired 
apparently at random in the streets and a very large 
number of houses and shops were broken into, set on 
fire, and their contents looted or destroyed. The 
inhabitants, most of them in their night clothes, men,. 


women and children, invalids, old people over eighty, 
and children in arms, were compelled, at a moment's 
notice and at peril of their lives, to fly through back 
doors and windows to the sandhills in the neighbour- 
hood of the town where they remained during the 
night, returning in the morning to find their homes 
completely destroyed. In the course of this attack 
a man, named Joseph Sammon, was shot dead. There 
were in all before me 38 claims for the criminal injuries 
committed on that occasion, and after full consideration 
of the claims I awarded a total sum of over £65,000. 

" On the same night the town of Ennistymon was 
similarly invaded by the armed forces of the Govern- 
ment, shots were fired in the streets, the town hall 
and a large number of houses and shops were broken 
into, set on fire, and, with their contents, destroyed. 
As in Lahinch, the inhabitants were compelled to 
fly for their lives. A young married man, named 
Connole, was seized in the street, by a party of men 
under command of an officer. His wife, who was with 
him, pleaded on her knees with the officer for the life 
of her husband, but he was taken away a short distance, 
shot, and his charred remains were found next morning 
in his own house, which had been burnt. Another 
young man, named Linnane, was shot dead in the 
streets while attempting to extinguish the flames. 
For the criminal injuries committed in the progress 
of this attack there were 13 claims, and I awarded 
upwards of £39,000 compensation. 

11 On the same night the town of Miltown Malbay 
was similarly invaded by the armed forces of the 
Government. A large number of houses and shops 
were broken into, set on fire and destroyed, the in- 
habitants escaping with difficulty and danger. An 
old woman named Lynch proved that during the 
course of this raid, just before the burning of her 
house, her husband (an old man of 75), while standing 
beside her at her own doorway, was shot dead by a 


soldier in uniform, distant about ten yards. She 
made no claim for the murder of her husband. I 
awarded £414 for the destruction of her home and 
property. It is right to add that in this town some 
of the Military and Police endeavoured to extinguish 
the flames. There were before me in respect of the 
raid of Miltown Malbay 28 claims, and I awarded 
upwards of £45,000. 

" A farmer named Daniel Egan applied to me for 
compensation for the alleged murder of his son. It 
was proved that a number of men arrested his son, 
and three other men, at his residence on the shores of 
Lough Derg, bound them with ropes and carried them 
away in a boat. The next the father heard of his son 
was a telegram from the police informing him that he 
had been shot on the bridge at Killaloe, and directing 
him to come to Killaloe for the corpse. On going to 
the police station he found his son's dead body in a 
coffin. There was a number of military and police 
present, but the only one he knew was District 
Inspector Gwynne. I allowed the case to stand for 
a week for the production of the District Inspector. 
The District Inspector did not appear, and I adjourned 
the case to next Sessions." 

The reply of the Chief Secretary to Judge Bodkin's 
Report was to have him served in Court by the Co. 
Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary with the 
following notice : 

" To His Honor Judge Bodkin. 

" Sir, I have been directed by the Commander of 
the Forces to prohibit Courts of Justice dealing with 
claims for compensation involving allegations against 
the Crown forces or police in this area." 

And the Judge's observation is : 

" On taking my place on the Bench I observed a 
large armed force in the Court, apparently for the 
purpose of enforcing the prohibition. I adjourned 
to next Sessions all cases in which it was alleged that 


the criminal injuries were committed by the armed 
forces of the Government." 

But the guilt of the scurvy rogues now let loose 
upon Ireland was a small matter when measured with 
that of their Ministerial paymasters. What the 
Government sanctimoniously called " reprisals " were, 
as we have seen, their way of avenging themselves for 
the collapse of Conscription and the realization of 
Self-Determination without their leave. They de- 
liberately resolved to treat this phenomenon of National 
self-liberation by the mere force of natural justice as 
the crime of a murder-gang and to stamp it out by 
unloosing the worst ruffians they could hire upon the 
country at free quarters and to turn a blind eye to 
their enormities or deny them altogether until their 
hellish work was done. It is not necessary to assume 
that Mr. Lloyd George and Sir Hamar Greenwood 
acquainted themselves fully with the character of the 
agents they were employing ; their culpability was 
that they did not inquire for themselves until the 
experiment failed and their boasts that they " had 
Sinn Fein on the run " and " had the murder-gang 
by the throat " were turned to their ridicule as prophets 
as well as to their confusion in the eyes of a conscience- 
stricken England. One small piece of evidence would 
be in itself sufficient to stain Mr. Lloyd George with 
responsibility for the deeds of the Black and Tans. 
It was a newspaper photograph representing an in- 
spection by the Prime Minister of a contingent of 
these worthies at a time when their ill-fame was at 
its worst and when Ireland was supposed to be 
cowering in terror under their bloody lash. The 
smirk of admiration on Mr. Lloyd George's face as he 
surveyed their ruffian ranks gives as damning testimony 
of his feelings as if he had shouted to them through a 
megaphone : " You are the boys for my money. Go 
in and win ! " 

Sir Hamar Greenwood's ignorance of a country 


where he had never trod until he came to crucify her 
might in some degree excuse his original employment 
of the Black and Tans : the most indulgent historian 
will look in vain for any palliation of the mendacity 
which he made his principal instrument of government, 
so long as it was possible to cover up their crimes. 
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Thomas MacCurtin, was 
visited at midnight by one of those black bands, 
summoned out of bed and foully murdered in the sight 
of his wife and children. Sir Hamar Greenwood 
blandly assured the House of Commons on the 
authority of the assassins that the Lord Mayor was 
murdered by his own Sinn Fein associates, and -the 
fact that he was as consistent a hater of foul play in 
any shape as he was ever the first to risk his life for his 
principles was actually quoted in support of the 
atrocious suggestion that it was for his moderation the 
Lord Mayor was slaughtered by his own comrades. 
The citizens who had murdered their own beloved 
Lord Mayor gave him a public funeral which was a 
spectacle of universal mourning the most impressive 
that was ever beheld there and raised a subscription 
of £23,000 for his widow and children. Still Sir 
Hamar Greenwood never blenched. 

Later on when the Curfew was sternly enforced, 
and nobody in the streets except the Army of Occupa- 
tion, the most valuable warehouses in the main 
thoroughfare of Cork, Patrick St., were set on fire 
with petroleum by five separate gangs of incendiaries, 
the nouses burned to the ground with carefully 
organized efficiency, and hundreds of thousands of 
pounds worth of property destroyed or looted. At 
the same time, in another part of the city, the Town 
Hall was invaded by the petroleurs and given to the 
flames, and the Carnegie Free Library adjoining was 
added to the holocaust. Once more Sir Hamar 
Greenwood, with forehead of brass, arose in the 
House of Commons to declare that it was the Sinn 


Feiners themselves who had burned the fairest part 
of their city and razed to the ground the headquarters 
of their local government. In order to give some air 
of verisimilitude to his theory that the latter incident 
was an accidental one, he explained that the flames 
from the Sinn Feiners' operations in Patrick St. had 
extended to the Municipal Buildings before the area 
of conflagration could be limited. The truth was that 
the Town Hall and the Free Library were situate 
nearly a mile away from Patrick St., with a river and 
a dense network of untouched streets between them 
and the burnt area of Patrick St. from which the 
Chief Secretary represented they had caught fire. 
The lie, gross as a mountain, was good enough for the 
House of Commons and was never cleared up nor 
apologised for. The origin of the attempt to burn 
down Cork was indeed ordered to be investigated at 
a secret military inquiry by General Strickland, the 
Governor of the City. All demands for the publica- 
tion of the text of the Strickland report, or even of its 
conclusions, were resisted by Sir Hamar Greenwood. 
To this hour an ignorant England accepts the legend 
that it was the miscreant Sinn Feiners themselves who 
murdered their Lord Mayor, burnt down their Town 
Hall, plundered and gave to the flames the wealthiest 
region of their city, and all because the Report of the 
Military Governor on these infamies was successfully 
suppressed, if it was not itself committed to the flames 
as well by England's highest ministers. What in- 
ference the Black and Tans themselves drew from 
their Chief Secretary's intrepidity in covering up 
their wildest falsifications as his own may be judged 
from the fact that the men well known to have been 
the incendiaries were no sooner removed from Cork, 
as the one concession made to General Strickland's 
expostulations than they in cold blood murdered 
Canon Magner, the parish priest of Dunmanway — 
perhaps the least politically-minded man of his race- 


and went within an ace of murdering a Resident 
Magistrate, Mr. Brady, R.M., who happened to be 
an inconvenient witness of the butchery. Two 
successive Mayors of Limerick — Mr. O'Callaghan 
and Mr. Clancy — were, like their colleague in Cork 
shot dead in their homes in presence of their horrified 
wives ; once again, the cynic in the Irish Office adopted 
from the assassins their loathsome plea that the 
slaughter of the Mayors of Limerick was the work of 
their brother Sinn Feiners, and that it was because of 
their very nobleness of character their fellow-citizens 
had slain them. It was not even lying reduced to a fine 
art : it was lying naked, boisterous and unashamed. 

These are not isolated instances of the Greenwood 
method of government ; they are samples of a system 
widely practised and unblushingly persisted in. If 
he had been impeached for crimes against public 
liberty no less heinous than Warren Hastings was 
summoned to answer for, the verdict could scarcely 
have been otherwise than that his audacity in con- 
cealing and perverting the truth carried with it a 
deeper shame than the worst enormities of the poor 
hirelings, whom it must be bluntly stated, he stimulated 
by his incitements and sheltered by his unlimited 
lying. The first and the worst offence of the Black 
and Tans in the eyes of Mr. Lloyd George or of Sir 
Hamar Greenwood was that they failed. No pit of 
official ignorance in which these personages may take 
refuge is deep enough to bury the ugly fact out of 

2 D 




We have now seen the two successive modes of 
aggression upon Sinn Fein — that of pinpricks under 
Mr. Shortt and Mr. Macpherson, and that of un- 
controlled ferocity under Sir Hamar Greenwood — 
in operation. While his faith in the virtues of the 
Black and Tans was still strong, Mr. Lloyd George 
resolved to extract one permanent result from the 
White Terror, and to make his old project for the 
division of Ireland into two provinces an accomplished 
fact. This he achieved by his Government of 
Ireland Act of 1920. It was carried without the 
support of a single vote from any section of repre- 
sentatives of the country of which it was to be the Act 
of Liberation stipulated for in President Wilson's 
Fourteen Points . The Act was equally detestable 
to North and South and was imposed upon both 
by main force. But to Sir Edward Carson it gave the 
satisfaction of a legislative acknowledgment once for 
all of the Two-Nations theory and to the Parlia- 
mentarians of the old Hibernian school it was enough 
to answer that the Act did precisely what they had 
themselves covenanted to do by their Headings of 
Agreement in 191 6 — namely, to separate the Six 
Counties from Nationalist Ireland. 

The six Hibernian members of Parliament saved 
by the Northern Bishops from the wreckage of the 
General Election did everything that feeble inefficiency 
could do in the new Parliament to justify the Irish 
revolt against Parliamentary action. Their first 
master-stroke, having just been ruined by their 


enslavement to one English Party, was formally to 
enslave themselves to another — the English Labour 
Party, and to throw over the remnant of the un- 
fortunate Liberals, because they were only a remnant. 
But under a leader of capacity, they might still have 
mustered a formidable opposition of Labourites, 
*' Wee Frees," gallant democratic friends of freedom 
like Commander Kenworthy and Captain Wedgwood 
Benn, and young Conservatives such as Lord George 
Bentinck, Mr. Aubrey Herbert, Mr. Moseley, 
and in a growing degree Lord Robert Cecil, 
who might have kept the House of Commons 
ringing with the atrocities in Ireland and obstructed, 
if not finally baffled, the Bill for the Partition of their 
nation. Parnell did such things as one of a group as 
small and without the support of half a dozen English- 
men. It was not merely that a Parnell of the first 
rate or of the fifth rate was missing. The trouble was 
that the sins of their days of power were haunting the 
Hibernians. What was Mr. Devlin to say in serious 
protest against a Bill which enacted that very surrender 
of the Six Counties to which his Party had solemnly 
consented, and which he in person, at the Belfast 
Convention, had thrust down the throats of the 
hypnotised Nationalists of the Six Counties them- 
selves ? That feat of inconsistency, however, would 
not have in itself overtasked his powers. He took a 
course in reference to the Bill as fatal to his reputation 
as a tactician as to his loyalty to principle. He with- 
drew himself and his Labour and Liberal friends from 
the Committee stage of the Bill, where they might 
have had their best chance of thwarting it, and only 
returned for the harmless formality of the Third 
Reading to declare in a speech of threadbare high 
heroics — he, the high priest of the Belfast Convention 
— that " they were face to face with a grave attempt to 
destroy the unity of their motherland, but they would 
meet that danger with courage and with incomparable 


resolution. They stood for freedom for Ireland, 
undivided and indivisible." " Partition," he finally 
described as " midsummer madness — rotten before 
it was born." In the meantime he was to find that 
in his absence and that of his friends, the more terre 
a terre Covenanters to whom he had handed over the 
Six Counties, had in Committee gerrymandered the 
constituencies of North East Ulster to their sweet 
will, and added two Orange Wards to his own con- 
stituency of the Falls Road, thereby ensuring his 
ejection from the Imperial Parliament at the General 
Election. In the last stage of his decadence 
the paladin, who had once summoned the police 
and military to make a ring for him in Belfast 
for a fight to a finish with the Orangemen, 
quitted Belfast as soon as he was taken at his word, 
and his constituents were falling by the hundred under 
the bullets of the unloosed Orangemen, and he subsided 
thenceforth into the poor role of " asking questions," 
feebler and ever feebler at Westminster. The only 
personage of any consequence in the group, Mr. 
T. P. O'Connor, confined his attention to the atrocities 
of the Black-and-Tans of Turkey in Armenia and with 
tears in his voice gave to that interesting people the 
eloquence he would once have devoted to the Bashi- 
bazouks of Sir Hamar Greenwood. 

We may be fairly challenged to name our own 
exploits in the emergency. Frankly, they were none. 
Unlike the Hibernian leaders who on the morrow of 
their overthrow at the polls predicted that " before 
six months " there would come a Reaction which 
would re-establish their power, the All-for-Ireland 
League, as a corporate power, had definitely ceased 
to exist before the General Election. For fifteen 
years, we had fought the losing battle against the ever 
growing power of a corrupt Hibernian ascendancy to 
prevent the majority of our countrymen from hearing 
anything except the most fantastic misrepresentations 


of our views and actions. We had an unshaken con- 
viction that time was bound to vindicate, as the only 
stable basis of a benign National settlement, an agree- 
ment by consent of every element of strength, Gaelic 
or Norman or British, Catholic or Protestant, Demo- 
cratic or Conservative, which constituted the actual 
Irish nation, such as History had bequeathed it to us, 
as opposed to the destructive programme of everlasting 
enmity towards " our hereditary enemies," " the 
black-blooded Cromwellians," "the Orange dogs," and 
" the rotten Protestants," in pursuance of which a 
majority of the constituencies tragically ignorant of 
what they were being led to do, had repulsed every 
conciliatory advance from far-sighted Protestant Irish- 
men and forced a million of their countrymen to hail 
Sir E. Carson as their deliverer. The vindication 
of our measures for allaying the fears of the Protestant 
minority and our unconquerable aversion to Partition 
had, indeed, come already, and was to be within a few 
years acknowledged by every school and section of 
Irish Nationalists, including our most bitter maligners 
and by every English Party as well, who eventually 
found salvation around the conference-table of which 
we had set them the example fifteen years before at 
the Land Conference. We had lived to receive the 
admission of the Prime Minister that we were " funda- 
mentally right," and were presently to hear the head 
of the new Revolutionary movement, Mr. De Valera, 
protest as passionately as ourselves his devotion to the 
rights of " our hereditary enemies " who had given 
us our Grattans and Wolfe Tones and Emmets, and 
to find the President of the new " Irish Free State," Mr. 
Arthur Griffith, in his first proclamation, publish our 
doctrines of unwearying conciliation of the Protestant 
minority as the foundation-stone of his Government. 
We were to have the consolation such as it was of 
finding the Irish Hierarchy publishing in 1922 (eight 
years too late, alas !) their solemn judgment that " the 


deadly effect of Partition has been to ruin Ireland "— 
the Partition which was unanimously consented to by 
the Hibernian Parliamentary Party, and for making 
the sole protest against which (while there was still 
time to avert the catastrophe) we were anathematised 
as traitors. 

But we had no longer any power to hasten the 
consummation of the enlightened principles soon to 
be crowned with universal assent. Nay, it was certain 
that our disappearance would be the surest means of 
removing the last obstacle to their triumph, by re- 
moving all pretext for the old jealousies, and leaving 
the new generation unfettered to follow up the good 
work in the plenitude of their fresh energies and 
springtime hopes. Sic vos non vobis seems to pro- 
nounce irrevocably the fate of the pioneers and we 
cheerfully bowed to the decree. On the other hand, 
even if our collaboration had been invited (and it never 
was) we should have shrunk from the responsibility 
of flinging our young countrymen all but weaponless, 
against the colossal armaments of England under 
conditions of which we knew nothing. All the more,, 
that we were still persuaded, Parliamentary methods 
had proved ineffective, not because they were the 
Parliamentary methods of Parnell, but because they 
were not, but were the methods of corrupt bargain 
and sale which had sacrificed the interests of the nation 
to those of an English Party. But the new men were 
the solitary hope of redeeming the country from a state 
of political rottenness which moved Mr. T. P. 
O'Connor himself to cry out that the place-hunting 
members of Parliament " were making a commonage " 
of Mr. Birrell's room in the House of Commons, and 
if they were to be trusted at all must be armed with 
all the undivided strength the nation could give them. 
To the new men, consequently, it became our cardinal 
principle to secure the same generous mandate which 
had been given to Parnell against the less degenerate 


followers of Butt and under no circumstances to say 
or do aught that could enfeeble their arm. 

On two occasions only, up to the date of the Truce, 
was our silence broken. The first was when a protest 
in the Times was wrung from me by the devastation 
of our own little town of Mallow. In the rage of the 
Crown forces under a defeat which was a perfectly 
legitimate act of war, they turned a place which had 
been a sylvan Arcadia of peace and mutual tolerance 
into a furnace of vengeful passions on both sides in 
which the nights grew horrid around us with the 
rattle of gunfire, the crash of bridges blown into the 
air and the glare of burning mansions and of burning 
cabins. My only other intervention was one that 
seemed to be forced upon me as an elementary duty 
of humanity as well as patriotism. While the war 
was already furiously raging and spreading, but before 
it had yet nearly reached its climax, I received a 
communication from one of Mr. De Valera's most 
intimate confidants — although not, so far as I know 
at his desire, or, perhaps, even with his knowledge — 
which could leave no room for doubt that peace might 
at that moment be had on terms which would have 
spared the country two years of appalling bloodshed 
and sufferings and which Mr. Lloyd George would 
have paid a kingdom's ransom two years later if he 
could go back to. The substance of that communica- 
tion I took the responsibility of communicating to the 
Prime Minister in a correspondence which will speak 
for itself, and which there is no longer any reason for 
withholding : 

Confidential and Secret. 

July 5, 1919. 
Dear Mr. Loyd George, — 

Enclosed extract may be relied upon as indicating 
what the attitude of Sinn Fein will be towards any 
definite offer of Dominion Home Rule. For that 


reason, and because I can guarantee the writer's good 
faith and very special sources of information, I con- 
sider it a duty to send it to you. From his report it 
may be deduced with certainty that Sinn Fein will 
not block the way of any offer of New Zealand or 
Newfoundland Home Rule provided (i) that it comes 
from the Government itself, (2) with a guarantee that 
if accepted by an Irish Referendum it will be put into 
operation and (3) that neither the Times nor Sir H. 
Plunkett is allowed to exploit the concession to the 
prejudice of the elected representatives of Ireland, 
whose concurrence (tacit if not active) will be essential 
if any practicable settlement is to be effected within 
my time or even within yours. I will not waste 
your time adding another pebble to your mountain 
of glory : there is only one triumph more amazing 
and more blessed you could have and it would be in 

Sincerely yours, 

William O'Brien. 

The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., 
Prime Minister. 

(Enclosed Extract). 
Confidential and Secret. 

' I have had an opportunity of seeing , who is 

a really fast friend of ours and is the right-hand man of 
Mr. De V. I have also met a large number of leading 
people in Dublin and the country and I'm quite 
convinced that 99 per cent, of the Sinn Fein body 
would gladly accept Dominion Home Rule as a settle- 
ment, but will have nothing to do with Plunkett 's 


scheme or with any other scheme of the same nature 
until such time as the Government place all their cards 
on the table. 

" I am agreeably surprised at the good sense dis- 
played by the people, and the most determined of the 
young men as well as the more experienced. There 
is more common sense and more resolution than was 
ever before known in our history. Every person I met 
was willing to close with an honest Dominion Settle- 
ment, including all but a handful of the extremist 
Volunteers, but all are determined not to give way one 
inch until something concrete is before the country. 

" There was near being a serious split in the S.F. 
camp a few weeks ago. It was learned that the Govern- 
ment intended to suppress by force any meeting 
of the Sinn Fein M.P.s The leaders agreed to abandon 
any public meeting for the present. To this the 
Volunteers strongly objected, stating their men were 
prepared to make any sacrifice in defence of the right 
of the Dail to meet in public. However the matter 
was got over through the influence of Mr. De Valera 
with the extreme men. 

" I asked would the Volunteers give the same 
trouble if Mr. De Valera accepted Dominion Home 
Rule. He assured me they most certainly would not, 
but on the contrary would be perfectly reasonable. 
But they must first be sure the Government mean 
business and that there would be no more foolery either 
at home or in America. Failing that confidence they 
are ready for anything and so is the country. Dillon 
and his crowd are dead and gone. 

" If the country had only shown the same sense 
a few years ago, all would have been so different. 
However, it is a consolation to know they have at long 
last learned a sound lesson in the school of experience. 
If they are honestly dealt with, all will be well, but 
God help the Government that will try any further 
tricks on them." 


Private and Confidential. 


14th July, 1919. 
Dear Mr. O'Brien,— 

I thank you for sending me the interesting extract 
on the attitude of Sinn Fein towards Dominion Home 
Rule. There is nothing I would like better than to 
carry through any measure which would terminate 
the long, dreary and baffling feud between Britain and 
Ireland. Frankly, I am not in a very hopeful mood. 
I have made two or three attempts, and when they 
seemed to be on the point of success — accomplishment 
eluded one. That seems to me to have been the 
experience of almost every man who has striven to 
settle the Irish question. I think you were funda- 
mentally right when you sought an agreement amongst 
all sections, creeds and classes of Irishmen. I am 
afraid settlement is impossible until that has been 
achieved. All parties in Britain, Liberal, Unionist, 
Labour, are equally pledged through their leaders not 
to coerce LHster into the acceptance of any measure 
of autonomy which would have to be forced on the 
population of that Province. On the other hand, 
Irish Nationalists are equally pledged not to accept 
any settlement which would not put Ulster into the 
same position as Munster or Connaught. How are 
you to reconcile these inconsistent positions ? Home 
Rule is within the reach of Nationalist Ireland the 
moment it extends its hand, but if Nationalist Ireland 
says she will not have Home Rule unless she can have 
Ulster, with or without her will, then I am afraid a 
settlement is remote. 

The Sinn Fein attitude during the war has not 
made matters easier. No British Statesman could 
coerce Ulster in order to place it forcibly under the 
control of De Valera and the men who were un- 
doubtedly intriguing with the Germans to stab Britain 


in the back at the very moment when Germany was 
making a special effort to overwhelm her armies in 
France. I very much regret having to say this for I 
have always been a consistent supporter of every 
Home Rule Bill introduced into the House of Com- 
mons during the past 30 years. But it is no use 
ignoring facts. I know you to be a man of supreme 
courage and therefore prepared to face unpalatable 

Ever sincerely, 

Lloyd George. 
Wiiliam O'Brien, Esq. 

Priva te and Confiden Hal. Ju ly 1 9 , 1 9 1 9 . 

Dear Mr. Lloyd George, — 

Before you finally make up your mind to the most 
lamentable decision to which you are tending, there 
are a few considerations which I would ask you to 
weigh well. 

1. If I was " fundamentally right " in struggling 
for the conciliation of " Ulster," it is not wise to forget 
that these efforts were steadily ignored by a Liberal 
Home Rule Government while Sir E. Carson's men 
were declaring in the House of Commons that it was 
still possible to win the consent of Ulster. No con- 
cession of any kind was offered, until at the last and 
under threat of rebellion there was offered the one 
inadmissible and impossible concession — that of Par- 
tition and the whole object of the Home Rule Bill 

2. That Partition was offered with the con- 
currence of the late Irish Party is no argument 
against the Irish people, who, the moment they got 
the chance, and mainly on account of their acceptance 
of Partition, annihilated that Party at the polls. 

3. Irish resentment is only exasperated by the 
allegation that " the Irish Convention failed to agree 
to a settlement." As you may possibly remember, I 


pointed out to you at the time, 90 out of 100 members 
of the Convention were pledged to Partition (which 
only for the Sinn Fein victories of East Clare and 
Kilkenny they would certainly have fallen back upon). 
The Convention represented everybody except the 
Irish people, as is proved by the fact that not three 
Nationalist members of the Convention could obtain 
election by any constituency in the country. On the 
other hand, you have only to refer to the class of 
names I suggested for a Conference of ten or twelve 
known friends of peace to make sure they would 
have come to an agreement, and that, on a Refer- 
endum, their agreement would have been accepted 
by as large a majority as it is possible for any country 
to show upon any contested issue. That way, and 
that way alone, a settlement still lies. 

4. The argument as to Sinn Fein having 
"" stabbed England in the back " is only worthy of 
Sir E. Carson, whose preparations for his own 
rebellion were far more responsible for England's 
troubles with Germany. It must be remembered 
that the Easter Week Rising was a reaction from the 
failure of forty years of earnest petitioning for peace 
on the part of the Irish people, culminating with the 
proposal of Partition, which is as intolerable to 
Ireland as a proposal of peace would be to France 
on condition of the alienation of one-fourth of her 
territory. If Sinn Fein had stooped to a real policy 
of treachery, they would have flooded your army 
with Irish recruits, and by wholesale desertion in 
battle have imitated the desertions from the Austrian 
Army of her Bohemian, Croatian, Rumanian, and 
Italian subjects, to whom you have given liberty as 
their reward for their rebellions. 

5. Nationalists are not pledged to a policy of 
" putting Ulster in the same position as Munster or 
Connaught." On the contrary, they are ready with 
one voice now to concede to Ulster the special tenns 


my friends and myself struggled for all along — 
terms which would secure her all but half the votes 
in an Irish Parliament. They would probably accept, 
further, some such exceptional appeal to the Imperial 
Parliament for a limited time as we proposed six 
years ago. Any conceivable danger of oppression 
would now be met by an appeal to the League of 
Nations, who will have a jurisdiction in the affairs 
of minorities much larger than the " Ulster " 
minorities who have been incorporated in the new 
States of Poland, Bohemia, Servia, and the Italian 

6. If the offer of unqualified Dominion Home 
Rule for all Ireland were propounded even now on 
the responsibility of the Government and accepted 
by an overwhelming majority — even in Ulster itself — 
on Referendum, it is not conceivable, especially if the 
verdict of Great Britain were obtained at a General 
Election, that physical force would be necessary to 
obtain obedience to the law. 

I am too old to be any longer of much account, 
but it would be a wrong to the two countries to 
conceal from you my conviction that if the reason- 
ableness of the most influential leaders of Sinn Fein 
be now spurned and nothing done, so long as Sir 
E. Carson bars the way, you will leave many millions 
of the new generation of Irishmen at home and in 
America and Australia with no alternative but to 
place their hopes in England's difficulties either 
through perilous rivalries with America or in some 
Socialist revolution at home in some paralysis of 
English trade. You will not, I hope, complain if I 
have been free spoken in offering advice of a sort 
which up to the present has not often turned out to- 
be astray in the affairs of Ireland. 

" Sincerely yours, 

" William O'Brien. 
" Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, m.p., 
Prime Minister." 


" If they are honestly dealt with, all will be well, 
but God help the Government that will try any 
further tricks on them I " It was the complete 
manual of wisdom in the matter, but the manual 
was placed under the eyes of the blind. Plainly, it 
was the incorrigible British fault all over again : 
Mr. Lloyd George read the first hint of good will on 
Mr. De Valera's part as a sign that he was a beaten 
man. As likely as not, he concluded that he had 
caught Mr. De Valera and myself in a conspiracy to 
balk him of the victory already in the hands of the 
Black and Tans. Here was the small smartness 
which so often marred his imaginative greatness as a 
statesman. Had he at that time honestly opened 
negotiations for peace, he would have avoided most 
of the difficulties which were later to imperil every- 
thing when the Irish Republic had to be dealt with 
as an accomplished fact. The Dail had not yet been 
formally called together : its members had not yet 
sworn the solemn oath of allegiance to the Irish 
Republic which it thenceforth became the principal 
difficulty of delicate minds to recall. It seems certain 
that Mr. De Valera's scruples about arranging the 
terms of an " external association " with the Empire 
would never have assumed their subsequent serious- 
ness, and that the vast bulk of the nation would 
have welcomed peace in ecstacy. Nevertheless, in 
the very letter in which he acknowledges that I was 
" fundamentally right " (and consequently he himself 
fundamentally wrong) in the advice I had for years 
been tendering, the Prime Minister once more rejects 
my counsels, will talk of nothing except the old 
bitterness of Easter Week, and the failure of his 
own precious specific of " The Irish Convention," 
and obviously dismisses the subject with the 
comfortable feeling that his own policy of the Black 
Hand was winning. 




Forced by England's deliberate plan from its quiet 
administration of Corporations and Co. Councils, 
its Arbitration Courts and peaceful picketing of the 
Royal Irish Constabulary, to fight for its life, Sinn 
Fein at last stood on its guard and fought. Since 
young David took up his sling to tackle Goliath never 
seemed there so unequal a match. Between regulars, 
policemen and naval ratings, England disposed of an 
army of 100,000 of the best equipped troops in the 
world, being at least one armed soldier for every able- 
bodied man of the population in the eight or ten 
counties to which the burden of the battle was confined. 
Against this host there was arrayed no visible force of 
any kind except bands of half-drilled youngsters, 
without so much as a field piece, with the scantiest 
equipment even of rifles, with no really serviceable 
weapons at all except revolvers to confront the heavy 
artillery, the tanks and armoured cars massed against 
them under famous generals fresh from their victory 
over German armies counted by millions. Before 
the revolution which the World-War made in methods 
of warfare as in the whole structure of civilization, 
no Irishman outside a padded-cell could have dreamed 
of pitting these parcels of raw youths in the open 
field against the ironclad might of England. By a 
curious irony it was a war in which the armaments of 
England surpassed tenfold any in her history that 
caused Ireland, Egypt and India to laugh at her 
colossal military power, and it was after the war, on 
its great fields, had been triumphantly concluded that 


her armies were covered with disgrace and shame by 
a Young Ireland furnished with weapons little more 
dangerous than blackthorns. It was, of course, solely 
because the principle of the sacredness of the liberties 
of the small nationalities on which she had been forced 
to fight the war, if she were to obtain the aid of America, 
now interposed its veto against the annihilation of 
Ireland by her militarist armies, and the fine chivalry 
with which she had egged on or rewarded with their 
National Freedom the rebels of the Austrian, the 
Russian and the Turkish empires, was now retorted 
upon herself and withered her arm when she came to 
deal with the Poles, and Tcheco-Slovaques and Jougo- 
Slaves of her own Empire. 

Mr. Lloyd George, however, stripped England of 
all the credit she might have had if she had of her own 
motion added Ireland to the constellation of free nations 
it was her boast to have set shining by the Treaty of 
Versailles. He took a course which digged a new 
gulf of hatred between the two islands, he tore open 
centuried wounds which were all but healed. He 
tortured the patient nation-builders of the original 
Sinn Fein programme out of their peacefulness and 
he supplanted them with the Irish Republican Army. 
He affected to mistake a world-wide race for a murder- 
gang, and never gave up the policy of " frightfulness " 
and insult by which he calculated upon cowing them, 
until he had kindled them into a war of liberty which 
was the admiration of the world, and until the beaten 
bully was reduced to suing for a visit to his Cabinet 
Room at Downing St. from the most noted of the 
murder-gang. It was not, however, until he had first 
compelled the tortured nation for two years to undergo 
a sweat of blood. This is not the place to relate the 
history of events, quorum pars minima fui — which I 
was compelled to witness in blank and helpless inaction 
and of which the recital must be left to those with a 
better title to write from first hand information. Two 


things it may safely be affirmed will appear with more 
certainty the more searchingly the investigations 
hitherto forbidden are pushed home — there will be 
found no page in England's story more shameful than 
the War of the Black and Tans, and none in which the 
fortitude of the youth of Ireland and their idealism 
as lofty if sometimes also as cloudy as our Irish skies 
will figure more proudly in the eyes of their posterity. 

The Irish Republican Army could not hold the 
open field for an hour against ten thousand regular 
troops ; they nevertheless succeeded in worrying an 
army of a hundred thousand out of the country. 
Battalions without end poured into the remotest 
villages, without any visible resistance to their 
armoured cars and great artillery ; but the practical 
results of their occupation vanished as promptly as 
the fortifications built by children on the foreshore, 
to be quietly swallowed up by the next tide. Not 
less unchainable was the ocean that swelled around 
their barrack-walls, for its ebb and flow was moved 
by the two primeval attractive forces that agitate the 
soul of the multitudinous Irish race — the Spirit of 
Liberty and the Spirit of Religion. The nation was 
seized by a holy fire such as inflamed the first Cru- 
saders at the call of Peter the Hermit. The Republican 
army into which the young men flocked was not more 
truly an army than a great religious Confraternity as 
fanatical as the processions of the White Penitents which 
traversed Europe in the Middle Ages. They went into 
fire or mounted the scaffold with the placid conscience 
of those who have received Extreme Unction and are 
about to step straight into Heaven. Not only had death 
no terrors for the finest among them ; they courted it 
and insisted upon it as the most precious of honours, 
and that with the modesty of true heroes. Kevin 
Barry, a medical student of 16, who was hanged for 
an attack on a military lorry in one of the streets of 
Dublin, was a perfectly fair specimen of the Republican 



recruit. Two days before his execution, the boy met 
some of his comrades in the prison-yard at Mountjoy, 
and was permitted to shake hands with them. As 
they parted, his dying speech was : " Well, good bye, 
boys : I'm off on Monday ! " — that and nothing more. 
Death, even under what might well seem to the young 
soldier ignominious conditions, was too much a matter 
of course to waste words about. Against happy 
warriors such as he — who recited their Rosaries or 
sang their " Soldier's-Song " with equal fervour — 
who appeared and disappeared on the track of the 
British troops with the mysterious facility of Ariel— who 
accepted sentence of penal servitude or death without 
answering a word in recognition of England's Courts- 
martial — who even in the depths of the English 
prisons where they were emtombed carried on the 
war as stoutly as ever, raised barricades and engaged 
their torturers with bare fists, escaped over the prison 
walls under the eyes of their jailors, died of hunger by 
inches, rather than acknowledge any criminal taint, held 
their dances in the intervals of their ambushes in their 
mountain bivouacs and in all these wild years never 
laid an irreverent hand upon a woman, or tasted 
intoxicating drink, or bred a single informer in their 
ranks — against the spirit of ten thousand Kevin Barrys, 
the garrisons of the armoured cars might as well dis- 
charge their great guns against the heavens. 

More amazing even than the fanaticism of the 
Republican Army was the genius with which their 
operations were conducted. Nobody knew who were 
the men in command. Nobody knows for certain 
even yet. The young clerks and schoolmasters and 
artisans like Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Richard 
Mulcahy and Major General McKeown, " the black- 
smith of Ballinalee," who are now the legendary heroes 
of the fights were at that time unknown even by name 
outside their secret council-chambers. But General 
Macready and the most acute of his staff officers were 


the first to recognise the military genius of the anony- 
mous captains who lay in wait for them and baffled 
them — the accuracy with which their plans were 
worked out to their smallest particular — the versatility 
with which, as soon as one mode of attack was ex- 
ploded, they turned to another and a more provokingly 
ingenious one — the ruthless punctuality with which 
they answered " reprisals " by " counter reprisals " — 
the methodical precision with which the account for 
the hanging of six soldiers of the Republic in one 
morning in Cork was squared by the shooting of six 
soldiers of England the same evening in the same city — 
and the cheerfulness with which they took their 
punishment whenever even native wits like theirs were 
no match for the overpowering army against which 
their revolvers and shot guns were pitted. As the 
plot thickened, savage crimes began to dog the march 
of the Republicans as well as of the Black-and-Tans. 
A la guerre comme a la guerre ! was spoken by the most 
chivalric of the war-nations ; war is always and every- 
where a hideous and bloodguilty thing obeying its law of 
nature which is to beat the enemy into subjection by 
whatever brutalies it may. But these were only the rare 
blots upon a guerilla war which would have been the 
admiring wonder of England and the enthusiastic 
theme of her poets had it been waged against any 
power in the world except her own — a guerilla war as 
gallant as that which drove the French out of Spain more 
effectually than Wellington's Army — waged against far 
more terrific odds than that of the Greeks which excited 
Byron's lyric raptures — and perhaps with more scru- 
pulous weapons than those employed against Austria 
by Mazzini whom, as these lines are written, Mr. 
Lloyd George has been extolling as " the greatest name 
in the history of Italy " — the name of Dante himself 
being forgotten, if ever heard of. 

The Black-and-Tans for their part, if they were 
less resourceful in wit, made up for their inferiority 


by a brutality run mad. Whatever atrocities the jack- 
booted Germans committed in the first weeks of their 
occupation of Belgium, the Black-and-Tans com- 
mitted and improved upon for a year and a half during 
their Satanic reign in Ireland. They roamed through 
the country by night in their armoured cars bellowing 
with drunken fury in search of vengeance for some 
successful ambush or captured barrack : set fire to 
defenceless villages or blew them up with bombs; 
flogged, tortured and murdered without ceremony the 
men whenever they could find them, under conditions 
too loathsome to be particularized ; whenever the 
men were missing, they extorted their last penny from 
the terror of the women, outraged them with drunken 
obscenities more hateful than their flourished revolvers, 
and left with a whole generation of Irish children 
memories of their midnight devilries more horrible 
than any Dante could imagine for his Inferno. For 
the bare offence of being found in possession of re- 
volvers men were hanged, and the statesmen who 
hanged them were shocked to find that the hangings 
were followed by vengeances no less drastic. A trick 
more cunning than crude barbarities like these was 
the systematic destruction of the people's means of 
living by the burning down or blowing up of the 
factories, like those at Balbriggan and Mallow, upon 
which half the working population depended for 
employment. Even the blameless rustic creameries 
to which many thousands of farmers trusted for a 
market for their milk were given wholesale to the 
flames ; and the only comment of the Prime Minister 
upon this pretty employment for the arms of England 
was his sneer at the influence of Sir Horace Plunkett 
as a peacemaker, that " he could no longer depend even 
upon the support of his creameries." 

And the ineflfectualness of all this gigantic apparatus 
of " f rightfulness ! " The only people at all terrorized 
were the old folks, the sick, the mothers and their 


babies trembling in their cabins, or driven to fly to the 
mountains or the graveyards for refuge from their 
midnight invaders. The young men who were the 
real quarry of the terrorists — even those who had 
hitherto kept aloof from the Revolution — were left no 
alternative but to swell the ranks of the Republican 
Army in their fastnesses in the hills, whence they 
swooped down in their own good time with a vengeance 
too often as savage as that of their antagonists and far 
more sure. The young women defied bullets and the 
courts-martial even more bravely than their brothers 
or sweethearts. After twelve months while this lex 
talionis was the only law of the land, the Irish Re- 
publican Army had so far got the better of the ap- 
parently irresistible forces opposed to them, that even 
in the cities no military lorry from which the muzzles 
of the rifles protruded could pass through the streets 
in open day without a bomb hurtling in the ears of its 
garrison, and in the country the railways were made 
impassable, the bridges blown up and the roads 
trenched and barricaded, and their most confidential 
despatches intercepted until their armoured cars no 
longer durst venture outside their garages and the 
Black-and-Tans found themselves cooped up in their 
guard-rooms, with no other resource left to relieve the 
tedium except the proceeds of their raids for whiskey 
and their quarrels — sometimes with revolvers as well 
as with fists — with the more clean-lived of the old 
Royal Irish Constabulary who were still condemned to 
keep their obscene company. They had turned against 
them the most timid man in the country, Unionist, as 
well as Nationalist, who was not within range of their 
rifles. As for the nation in general, who had smarted 
under the taunt that Irishmen fought bravely for every 
country except their own ; who were humiliated to 
remember that for nearly a century they could only 
quote the three Manchester Martyrs and a very few 
others who had thought it worth while to offer up 


their lives for Ireland — who remembered with a certain 
self-reproach, how lately it was that the country 
seemed to be sunk in shameless political corruption 
and self-seeking — they were open-eyed in wonder 
and delight to discover that a generation had arisen 
ready in thousands and in tens of thousands to die for 
Ireland with a mystic love-light in their eyes, and most 
wonderful of all that they were striking all the hosts of 
England with paralysis behind their fortresses and 
big guns. Every Irishman worth his salt the world 
over began to glow with pride in the young soldiers 
of his nation. 

Sir Hamar Greenwood might go on undauntedly 
bragging and lying, but England was awakening to 
horrid glimpses of the truth. English men and 
women, who came over to see for themselves, were 
going back with stories that turned honest cheeks 
aflame ; and Mr. Lloyd George, excellent opportunist 
that he was, was beginning to ask himself whether in 
place of " having Sinn Fein on the run " and " holding 
the murder-gang by the throat," it was not perhaps the 
murder-gang who were having the best of it and 
whether it was not about time for him to " go on the 
run himself." 




One of the worst consequences of Mr. Lloyd George's 
mistaking reasonableness in the Sinn Fein leaders for 
weakness was to accentuate the demand for a Republic. 
Up to that time, the talk of a Republic arose largely 
from the habit of putting demands higher than ex- 
pectations, which the shiftiness of English party 
politicians had encouraged. In his interview with me 
in August 1922, Mr.De Valera made a statement which 
throws a flood of light upon the secret processes by 
which the Irish Revolution was turned from peaceful 
action to arms. " He said " (I quote from my own note 
of our conversation) " he had spent the last four years 
trying to keep the peace between Cathal Brugha, on 
what he might call the old Fenian side, and Arthur 
Griffith, representing the Constitutional Sinn Feiners. 
They were really two separate movements, and nothing 
except the pressure of the Black-and-Tan terror kept 
them together so long." That I believe to be pro- 
foundly the historic truth of the matter. Parnell 
had the same nearly superhuman task as between the 
two wings of his own movement ; but not only did 
Parnell possess a supreme genius for command, but 
the captains he attracted from the old Fenian host 
were men of as weighty a political judgment as his 
own, and the actual physical force movement had 
declined into a small and beaten sect, while the original 
Sinn Fein intellectual group had almost disappeared 
when the men of the Easter Week Rising by an absurd 
accident were forced to inherit their name, and the 
ferocity with which Dublin Castle persecuted every 


form of open and advised action every month increased 
the secret predominance of the men of action. 

Mr. Lloyd George's unlucky response perforce 
threw Mr. De Valera more and more into the hands 
of the more revolutionary of his counsellors. The 
Dail was secretly assembled and the Republic solemnly 
proclaimed. A more serious matter still, the members 
were made to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic, 
and the difficulty of getting the young idealists who 
were the flower of the movement to break the oath by 
which they were thus consecrated to the service of the 
Republic as an organized reality became the most 
insurmountable of all the obstacles in the peace negotia- 
tions later on. When I commented to Mr. De Valera 
upon the unwisdom of thus prejudicing the ultimate 
issue by an engagement so notoriously sacred in Irish 
eyes, he answered (I again quote from my precis of 
our conversation), " that he was from the beginning 
opposed to any oath of any kind being taken. It was 
while he was in prison the first Dail began by swearing 
allegiance to the Republic, and at the second Dail 
they had to follow the precedent." 

I did not myself take too tragic a view of Mr. 
Lloyd George's non possumus. It was impossible to 
know him without counting upon his readiness with 
a new set of opinions whenever the old set proved 
unworkable. I construed his letter as an order that 
the war must go on — until further orders. One of 
the brainiest of the Republican leaders, who after- 
wards became a Minister in the Cabinet of the First 
Dail (Mr. Austin Stack) has more than once reminded 
me of my prognostication at the time : "If you can 
hold out for six months longer, you'll have a sporting 
offer from Lloyd George," and his own amused reply : 
" If you're a true prophet, that's all right ; we can hold 
out for two years longer against man or devil." 

Before the six months were over, the Prime 
Minister was wobbling, and the " sporting offer " 


if it had not already come was on the way. In the 
meantime, Sir Hamar Greenwood's desperadoes grew 
more frantic than ever. Fresh regiments were poured 
across from England, it was made death to be in 
possession of firearms (two men were actually hanged 
for the offence) and the war of reprisals from both 
sides month by month assumed a more bloody and 
inhuman aspect, while a third party to the quarrel 
made its appearance in the shape of bands of high- 
waymen (mostly demobilised soldiers of the British 
Army) who roamed the country, plundering individuals 
and Banks with impartial pistols. It is curious to 
remark that, for the Bank robbery campaign, as for 
the substitution of assassination for persuasion in 
the case of the Constabulary, it was the Black Cabinet 
in Dublin Castle who set the example. They directed 
one of their Resident Magistrates, Mr. Alan Bell, to 
hold a Star Chamber inquisition at the Castle, at 
which he took forcible possession of the most confi- 
dential books of the Munster and Leinster Bank and 
laid hands on £20,000 of their funds on the suspicion 
that they belonged to Sinn Fein depositors. The 
unfortunate magistrate was promptly taken out of a 
tramcar on his way to the Castle, and shot dead on the 
roadside, and the Bank robbery initiated by the 
Government was copied with interest on the other 
side, until armed raids on the Banks became every- 
where a common incident in the anarchy. 

If women's purses (even that of General Strick- 
land's wife) were snatched in the public streets by 
the Black-and-Tans, still less were the ministers of 
religion spared, and the higher their station the more 
ferocious was the relish with which they were perse- 
cuted and murdered. Dr. Fogarty, the Bishop of 
Killaloe, was the only one of the Irish Bishops, since 
the death of Dr. O'Dwyer, who openly took his stand 
with Sinn Fein in its time of agony, but he was none 
the less an innocuous politician who had been up to a 


quite recent date a fervid admirer of the Parliamentary 
Party. The Bishop's palace at Ennis was raided in 
the middle of the night by an armed gang whose 
object, it can be charged upon unanswerable evidence, 
was to murder him. It came to my knowledge, upon 
the testimony of an actual eye-witness, that the In- 
spector of Constabulary, who commanded the Raiders, 
was shortly afterwards summoned to Dublin Castle 
to give a report of his expedition to his principal in 
chief command of the Auxiliaries. He related, with 
somewhat bumptious pride, the perfection of his 
arrangements, but " cursed his rotten luck that the 
old fox had given him the slip,'' and attributed to 
" some damned Catholic Peeler " the warning which 
had saved the Bishop's life. My information (which 
comes from a quarter not open to doubt) is that the 
Commandant, far from rebuking his subaltern's 
murderous zeal, followed him to the door when he 
was leaving, and took him by both hands with this 
shocking parting message : " Good bye, old chap. 
God bless you 1 Better luck next time ! " And 
for months afterwards the hunted Bishop was " on 
the run " for his life in the mountains of Clare, like 
the most persecuted of his predecessors of the Penal 

Two other strokes of " f rightfulness " which it 
was counted would mark the final subjugation of Sinn 
Fein, in reality put an end to the last possibility of 
breaking its spirit. One was the capture by a British 
warship on the high seas of Most Rev. Dr. Mannix, 
Archbishop of Melbourne, on his way to pay a last 
visit to his aged mother in his native country. The 
deportation to England of the Archbishop (admittedly 
the most powerful man in the Australian Common- 
wealth next to, if even next to, its Prime Minister, 
Mr. Hughes), and the paltry insolence of refusing him 
a last interview with his old Irish mother had the 
double effect of exhibiting the realities of the Irish 


situation to all civilized mankind in a way there could 
be no suppressing or falsifying, and of stirring up the 
spirit of resistance in Ireland to a pitch incomparably 
more passionate than could have been roused by the 
few public speeches it was the poor strategy of the 
British kidnappers to strangle. 

A still more stupid offence against humanity was 
the slow torture to death of the young Lord Mayor of 
Cork, Terence Mac Swiney. He was seized during 
the ceremony of his inauguration in succession to his 
predecessor, Tomas Mac Curtain, who was called out 
of his bed at midnight by a band of Auxiliaries and 
murdered in the presence of his wife and children, 
and who, Sir Hamar Greenwood with a face of brass 
assured the House of Commons had been assassinated 
by his brother Sinn Feiners. Young Mac Swiney, 
once in the toils of these monsters of lying and foul- 
play, made the last protest that was open to him against 
the iniquity of his imprisonment by devoting himself 
to the slow torments of death by hunger. Day by 
day, week after week, the world kept watch outside 
Brixton Jail while the Irish idealist lay calmly looking 
into the eyes of death every hour of the day and of the 
night with a steadfastness outlasting that of Mutius 
Scaevola, whom History has made immortal for 
plunging only an arm into the flames. His jailors 
were as inexorable as Death, but, as the clumsiest 
experimentalist in human nature might have antici- 
pated, it was the dead idealist who left Brixton Jail 
the victor, and not they. Sir Hamar Greenwood 
himself began to understand when an Archbishop and 
six Bishops with their mitres and croziers and in their 
purple robes, tramped through the streets of Cork 
before the coffin of Terence Mac Swiney. 

By this time the sea-change was beginning to work 
in the Prime Minister. As the Commission of In- 
quiry from the Labour Party and the foremost 
publicists of the American and French Press swarmed 


over to see for themselves and published their ex- 
periences to a horrified world, Sir Hamar Greenwood's 
early manner as a professor of able-bodied mendacity 
could no longer yield much comfort to his Chief. 
The first indignant denial that there had ever been 
reprisals had to be given up for shambling admissions 
that reprisals — and no doubt reprehensible reprisals — 
there had been ; the stories that the Mayors of Cork 
and Limerick had been murdered and a hundred towns 
and villages given to the flames by the Sinn Feiners 
themselves could no longer be got to pass the lying 
lips of the mythomaniacs, although they have never 
to this hour been honestly apologized for. But at 
least the reprisals, it was promised, were henceforth 
to be " official reprisals " carried out under responsible 
military authority. The more barbaric vengeances of 
the Black-and-Tans were without doubt discouraged , in- 
stead of being instigated, by humane and gallant soldiers 
like Sir Nevill Macready. It was not possible for 
such men to come to close quarters with those mis- 
creants without being obliged to report that they had 
placed themselves outside the pale of civilization and 
that their deeds, far from diminishing the power of 
Sinn Fein, had maddened the country into a system 
of resistance so irresistible, so omnipresent and so ably 
conducted that no army could put it down without 
a general massacre of unarmed old men, women and 
children, which would make the name of England an 
astonishment and a hissing among civilized men. 

By the spring of 1920 the Prime Minister who in 
July 1 9 19 had mistaken for the white flag of a beaten 
man Mr. De Valera's offer of peace while he had still 
an undisputed power to enforce it, was casting about 
for negotiations upon more ignominious terms with 
Archbishop Chine, an Australian Prelate who, with 
the usual clumsiness of England's dealings with 
Ireland, was eagerly welcomed to Dublin Castle by 
•way of administering another snub to his more authori- 


tative colleague of Melbourne, all this time held in 
oose custody in London, far from his native land and 
from consultation with the Sinn Fein chiefs with whom 
his word was law. Was the voice of Wisdom, which 
sitteth by the throne, to be heard even then ? 
The concessions announced to Archbishop Clune 
were, it is certain, the same in substance as 
those embodied in the Treaty signed in Downing 
Street in December, 1921, after eighteen further 
months of official brutalities which were wholly 
unavailing except that they most dangerously increased 
the power of the military chiefs of the I.R.A. as the 
arbiters between peace and war. It was to be 
" Canadian Home Rule " under precisely the same 
conditions of a Canada robbed ot its richest province 
and coerced into an Imperial tribute, which was the 
best Mr. Griffith and General Collins could obtain 
for Ireland in the Treaty of Downing Street. The 
one difference of any moment between the two offers 
was that Mr. Lloyd George still held out for the 
surrender of their arms by the I.R.A. as an indis- 
pensable preliminary. For the sake of saving Sir 
Hamar Greenwood's face by this paltry satisfaction , 
the chance of an agreement then and there which the 
pur sang Republicans were not yet strong enough to 
forbid was once more madly sacrificed. Sir Hamar 
Greenwood's face was not saved, because the con- 
dition then insisted upon was after another year of 
wanton bloodshed ignominiously dropped. The only 
result British statesmanship had to show for itself was 
that it arrayed the entire Irish race at the back of the 
Irish Republican Army in their refusal to surrender 
the arms by which they had brought Mr. Lloyd 
George to reason, and by which alone they could 
make sure he would not undergo a further sea-change 
before the bargain was honestly through, if he found 
himself negotiating with a disarmed nation. Another 
of the few remaining books of the Cumaean Sibyl was 
cast to the winds. 


On went the war with immeasurable loss of blood 
and credit on both sides, and with ever multiplying 
obstacles to that enduring peace which Ireland had 
gone on petitioning for until her soul was sick. It 
was the unsurrendered arms that in the long run did 
it. It would, of course, be nonsense to say the English 
armies were driven out of the country by the phantom 
levies of the I.R.A. The guerilla bands were no- 
where able to meet in battle-array the exultant legions 
just returned from their dazzling victories on the 
Continent, but it is no less true that the I.R.A. achieved 
the still more amazing military feat of cutting up that 
tremendous English army of a hundred thousand men 
into helpless fragments, isolating them, torturing them 
and getting upon their nerves in small surprises by 
night and day until it grew to be the one desperate long- 
ing of that host of heroes to get their orders for England. 

Heaven defend me from doing any wilful injustice 
to Mr. Lloyd George, if only because he is a cousin 
Celt in qualities and defects alike, and there is a call 
of the blood which thrilled the whole Celtic breed 
with pride at the sight of the dauntless little Welsh 
country practitioner bestriding the narrow world like 
a Colossus, as for memorable years he did. It will 
not do to dismiss him as " a turncoat from Home 
Rule," as did one of the Hibernian leaders who had 
been for years swinging an abject censer before his 
altar. If Mr. Lloyd George swopped Home Rule 
for Partition, so did Mr. Asquith and the rest of his 
" Home Rule Cabinet " ; so did the Hibernian Party 
themselves, without a single exception. They were 
" turncoats " all, or none. My own conviction has 
been already avowed that had he occupied Mr. 
Asquith 's place, with Mr. Asquith 's majority, and 
did Parnell's spirit still animate the Irish Party, Mr. 
Lloyd George would have developed the clear sighted- 
ness and imagination to carry a great Home Rule 
Act without anv serious dissent from Ulster. He 


would have understood the Irish aversion to Partition 
as he would have died on the slopes of shadowy Snow- 
don rather than submit, had the since Disestablished 
Church of Wales (a minority proportionately more 
considerable than that of Unionist Ulster in Ireland) 
proposed by way of compromise to cut up his own 
high-spirited little country into two provinces of 
Church-goers and Chapel-goers at eternal enmity. 
But now that " the Act on the Statute-book " with 
Ireland's own privity, was changed from a Home 
Rule Act to a Partition Act, Mr. Lloyd George, for 
whom there was no absolute truth in politics, but only 
a relative truth adjustable according to the reports of 
his Party whips, felt it a duty to try whether, as he 
was noisily assured from Dublin Castle, a Black-and- 
Tan settlement on that basis might not be the line of 
least resistance. The Black-and-Tans, the Whips 
now began to report, were not a success either in 
dragooning Ireland or in comforting the conscience 
of England, and the Prime Minister who had a faible 
for pushing his admiration for brave enemies to the 
length of despising friends down on their luck, frankly 
threw over his disreputable auxiliaries in Ireland and 
began to see an unexampled opportunity opening up 
before him of seeking an Irish victory in a precisely 
opposite direction, which was very likely more welcome 
to his heart of hearts. 

If he could not (in the pretty Black-and-Tan 
jargon of the day) " do in " Sinn Fein, he must e'en 
parley with it, and for that he had advantages un- 
known to any of his predecessors. To begin with, 
a King (it would be churlish to forget) whose yearning 
for an Irish appeasement was a factor of the first 
importance in mollifying the most ingrained English 
prejudices. Next, both Mr. Bonar Law and Sir E. 
Carson, who had made him Prime Minister, and made 
him their prisoner, were now removed from the active 
scene. That co-operation of English Parties, for 


which Gladstone sighed to no purpose was ready to 
his hand. Not altogether — may it sans immodesty 
be hinted ? — without a share of influence from labours 
of our own for many an unregarded year, the hesita- 
tions of the Unionist Party in particular — of fine 
Elder Statesmen of the stamp of Mr. Walter Long, 
as well as of the rising hopes and brains-carriers 
of the Party like Mr. Austen Chamberlain and Mr. 
F. E. Smith (now Lord Birkenhead) and Lord Robert 
Cecil himself — had given way to bolder notions of 
Irish liberty. None but a pathetic handful of ancient 
Tory impossibihsts any longer stood in the way. 

On the Liberal side, Mr. Asouith, again at the 
head of his " Wee Free " following in the House of 
Commons, was arraigning the atrocity-mongers in 
Ireland with the noble eloquence which was always 
his, and was advocating, as with a father's pride, a 
most opulent measure of that Dominion Home Rule 
which he had quite overlooked in the days of his 
Premiership. The Labour Party were to a man for 
Ireland's deliverance, the more complete the better. 
The Irish Unionists outside the Six Counties, who 
might have been a political force of the first magnitude, 
had they asserted themselves before they were deserted 
by Sir E. Carson and contemptuously ignored by the 
Parliament of England, did at last find voice to claim 
kinship with the aspirations of their countrymen. 
The Anti-Partition organisations of Irish Conservatives 
of capacity and high integrity like Lord Midleton and 
Sir Horace Plunkett, late comers though they were 
into the vineyard, did bring a substantial accession of 
strength to Mr. Lloyd George in the daring change of 
tront he was meditating. 

That he did not enlist the aid of Sir James Craig 
as well was the capital mistake of the Prime Minister 
in his new peace negotiations. The Ulster leader 
was never an incorrigible enemy of a modus vivendi 
with his Southern countrymen. Like so many of the 


higher Orange type, if he was an irresponsible being 
for half a dozen mad " anniversary " days, he was for 
all the rest of the year a kindly neighbour, a fast friend, 
more honest of heart than complex in the convolutions 
of his brain matter, but in all things, flattering or other- 
wise, as irredeemably Irish as the granite ribs of Cave 
Hill. At this moment, Sir E. Carson had gone off 
to the House of Lords, throwing the squalling baby 
Parliament in Belfast on his hands under circumstances 
which could scarcely fail to try the temper of the 
deserted Covenanters. Sir James Craig had besides 
been mellowing down into a popular officer of the 
King's Household, and would, we may be sure, have 
found more congenial work in gratifying the King's 
dearest desire than he had ever found in qualifying 
to be one of His Majesty's Rebels. It would not have 
been difficult, with his good will, to enlarge the 
" National Council " of the Act of 1920 into some 
real bond of National Unity, such as would have made 
it the pride of Ulster to be represented in the National 
Parliament, while retaining in any desired measure 
the local liberties she enjoys in her Belfast assembly. 
That no objection would have come from the Sinn 
Fein side is made clear by President Cosgrave, who 
declares that had Ulster accepted the Treaty of 
Downing Street as it stood she would still be in 
possession of her particularist privileges in as ample 
a measure as the All-for-Ireland League had ever 
proposed. 1 Sir James Craig had already given proof 

1 " It is not generally understood," President Cosgrave said 
in the Dail, " by the man in the street that had the Northerns 
elected to remain with us they would be guaranteed in perpetuity 
every acre ot territory that for the moment is under their control. 
They would have retained their Parliament of the Six Counties 
and their separate judiciary and their Governor, according to 
their pleasure .... and would have had under the Constitution 
of the Free State, a representation of 51 members in the Free 
State Parliament, instead of 13 members who now represent 
them at Westminster." 



by his perfectly courteous conversations with Mr. 
De Valera and Mr. Griffith that he was not averse to 
those more cordial understandings that nearly always 
follow personal contact. 

To leave such a man out in the cold while " the 
murder gang " were being welcomed to Downing 
Street was to invite suspicion among Sir J. Craig's 
touchy lieges and indeed to give it full justification. 
Yet this was what actually happened. The Minis- 
terial plan of campaign, I am afraid it will be found, 
was first to favour Sinn Fein by cheating " Ulster," 
and next when that portion of the programme broke 
down to cheat Sinn Fein by calling in " Ulster." 
While the Treaty of Downing Street was under dis- 
cussion at the Dail there was held a secret sitting at 
which full shorthand notes of the conversations 
between the British Ministers and the Sinn Fein 
delegates were communicated to the members under 
the strictest precautions as to secrecy. Members 
were not only specially pledged to regard the informa- 
tion as confidential, on pain of an instant renewal of 
hostilities by England, but measures were taken to 
prevent any written notes on the subject from being 
conveyed out of the chamber. Until the full official 
record, which must be still somewhere preserved, 
sees the light, the truth as to the most important Irish 
transaction for a century must still remain obscure 
and any enlightened judgment regarding the re- 
sponsibilities for the Treaty and for the Civil War 
that followed must be postponed until the secret 
part of the story comes to be divulged. My own 
information on the subject — derived though it is from 
three separate participants in the Secret Session — can 
only be made public under every reserve. 

There are some details, however, which are not 
to be doubted. The first is that the Ministerialists 
contrived to shift the discussions at the Conference 
from the straight issue of the Integrity of Ireland 


by leading the representatives of Sinn Fein to believe 
that the same end was to be more astutely attained by 
means of a Boundary Commission. That, I think, 
will be found to have been the cardinal error of the 
capable but inexperienced Irishmen who found them- 
selves pitted against the most subtle intellects the 
Empire could select. They allowed the debates to be 
diverted from the supreme rights of Ireland as one 
indivisible Nation, on which nothing could defeat 
them, to paltrier controversies as to whether this or 
that county, barony or parish might not be swopped 
from the Protestant to the Catholic side of the frontier 
and so ensuring that what remained of " Northern 
Ireland " must in the nature of things follow. The 
notion came (my information goes) from the in- 
genious brain of Mr. Winston Churchill whose position 
as Colonial Secretary gave him a more commanding 
influence than ever in his ill-fated incursions into the 
affairs of Ireland. He, with the express authority 
of Mr. Lloyd George, conveyed to the Irish delegates 
an assurance that the Boundary Commission would 
be so arranged as to ensure the transfer to the Irish 
Free State of the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh, 
the City of Deny and the important town of Newry, 
and that " Northern Ireland " thus virtually restricted 
to three counties, would find itself compelled to throw 
in its fortunes with the Free State. In one of his 
impulsive moments General Collins blurted out in 
a public speech the announcement upon Mr. 
Churchill's authority that, under the Boundary Com- 
mission stipulated for in the Treaty " vast territories " 
would be transferred from the Six Counties to the 
Free State. This was the first news of the arrange- 
ment which reached Sir James Craig. He promptly 
and indignantly announced that with a Boundary 
Commission of such a character he would have nothing 
to do. Mr. Churchill, when brought to book by a 
question in the House of Commons, denied that he 


had ever promised " to Mr. Michael Collins " the 
transfer of " vast territories " by means of the Boun- 
dary Commission. The reply was technically true, 
but was essentially false. It was not " to Mr. Michael 
Collins " he had given the promise ; it was to Mr. 
Michael Collins' intermediary. How responsible 
Ministers could ever have hoped that such a trans- 
action could be secretly carried through, behind the 
back of Sir James Craig, in violation of the solemn 
pledge given to him by the Imperial Parliament of 
the integrity of his territory under the Act of the 
previous year, passes comprehension ; but, unless 
three different testimonies which have reached me 
from trustworthy sources are to be discredited, the 
promise was undoubtedly given, and was only violated 
when General Collins' incautious disclosure roused 
Ulster up in arms against the chicanery. 

Two of the five Irish signatories of the Treaty 
declared they only signed it under duress. The 
duress was, it is true, gross and unwarrantable. They 
were threatened that unless they signed before a 
particular hour of the night of 5-6 December, without 
being allowed time to communicate with their princi- 
pals in Dublin, the dogs of war would be instantly let 
loose in Ireland and the order passed to the Black-and- 
Tans to set on. The threat was reinforced by the 
melodramatic announcement that a Destroyer had 
steam up to carry the news of the signing or of the 
break-off on the same night to Sir James Craig in 
Belfast — the Sir James Craig who had been kept for 
a month in total darkness as to how the negotiations 
were going. It is impossible to believe that men of the 
superb courage of General Collins' and Arthur Griffith 
were daunted by stage craft of this kind. They must 
have known that, even had these particular negotiations 
for a Treaty broken down, the Truce would still be in ex- 
istence, and could only be denounced after full time for 
deliberation in England and after every resource of 


diplomacy for negotiations in some new form had been 
exhausted. Terrific as was the risk of replunging 
Ireland into a sea of blood and terror, the very nature 
of the intimidation employed against them would 
have placed the sympathies of all civilized men on 
the side of Ireland if they declined to be hustled by 
such methods into consenting to part with one-fourth 
of the population and one-fifth of the territory of their 

It is more creditable to the moral courage of the 
Irish delegates, and I believe, truer to the facts, to 
conclude that their signatures were obtained, not so 
much under pressure of the threats of the Govern- 
ment, shameful though they were, as in reliance upon 
the promise of Mr. Winston Churchill and the Prime 
Minister that the Boundary Commission would result 
in the inevitable merger of the Six Counties in the 
Free State of Ireland. As it turned out, that promise 
had to be broken and the Boundary Commission 
reduced to a parochial business, if it is to be heard of 
any more ; and the first violation of the Treaty, in 
its spirit if not in its letter, had to be charged against 
England. The root cause of thinking Irishmen's 
repugnance to the Treaty of Downing Street went 
deeper than the pedantic difference between genuine 
Canadian Home Rule and a Republic. Had the Sinn 
Fein leaders — those who unwisely remained in Dublin, 
as well as those who shouldered the responsibility 
in London — taken their stand from the start upon the 
impregnable rock of the integrity of their country, 
and all their efforts been bent to overcoming the 
apprehensions of Ulster, nothing could have resisted 
the tide of thanksgiving which would have borne 
the Treaty to victory in a country blent together with 
the high mission and inspiration of National Re- 
generation. Even if these particular negotiations 
had to be broken off upon the clear issue of " Ireland 
a Nation, and not two hostile States," we should have 


had a justification in the eyes of civilized mankind 
against which Black-and-Tan methods could never 
again have raised their blood-guilty hands. 

For, whatever else may be doubtful, Black-and- 
Tannery was flatly and for ever beaten to the earth as 
an instrument of human government. And that, as 
I have already insisted, not by the valour of the young 
soldiers of Ireland alone, but by noble and enlightened 
co-operation from British lovers of freedom. A race 
of natural kindliness akin to weakness might, indeed, 
have been almost too effusive in forgetting all but the 
cheerfulness with which Mr. Lloyd George and his 
Ministers themselves gave up their prejudices and 
boasts of only a few months before, were it not that 
their change of heart was made manifest only after 
it became clear that the savagery of the Black-and- 
Tans was a failure as well as a crime — if not a crime 
because it was a failure. The game was up, at all 
events, in Ireland. The surrender of arms, on which 
the conversations with Archbishop Clune were broken 
off, had to be meekly given up. The Truce was 
proclaimed for the nth July, 1921, as between two 
armies on an equal footing. 

The last engagement of the war was a characteristic 
one. The Truce was to come into force at noon on 
July nth. At twenty minutes before noon a detach- 
ment of Black-and-Tans passing in caged lorries 
through the village of Castleisland, County Kerry, 
was attacked by a company of the I.R.A. and a fierce, 
and, I am sorry to say, deadly conflict ensued, in the 
brief war-minutes still remaining. When at twelve 
o'clock the first stroke of the Angelus Bell sounded 
from the village church-tower, the I.R.A. took off 
their caps and put up their guns. Not another shot 
was fired after the appointed hour in Castleisland or 
anywhere else through the country. That afternoon 
" the boys " scampered down from the hills into the 
towns "ona fortnight's furlough," as they modestly 


calculated, and celebrated their holiday in the half- 
schoolboy, half-fanatic spirit in which they had for 
two years maintained their war against an Empire 
still inebriated with the greatest military triumph in 
its history. They had their devout Requiem Masses 
for the fallen, their vast processions for the removal 
of the bodies of their dead comrades from the resting 
places in the bogs and mountains where they had 
found their temporary graves ; they ordered the 
closing of the public houses with as stern a discipline 
as ever ; but in the sweet summer evenings sang their 
*' Soldier's Song " and danced their jigs around the 
bonfires with their sweethearts with the same frolic 
welcome with which they had for many a month of 
danger hailed the thunder or the sunshine — the 
ghastly wounds or the shouts of victory. 




Here a book specially designed to trace " How the 
Irish Revolution Came About " might well come to 
its rightful end. From untold depths of degradation 
the young men of the Sinn Fein cycle had raised the 
Irish cause to a pinnacle at which the most powerful 
empire on the earth, its Coercion Ministers, its iron 
captains, and both Houses of its Imperial Parliament 
solicited almost on bended knees Ireland's acceptance 
of a Treaty, which to a more down-trodden generation 
might have seemed fabulously favorable. The first 
phase of the Revolution finished in all but unspotted 
glory with the Truce of July nth, 1921. The Truce 
which was the work of the soldiers marked the truly 
memorable date rather than the Treaty of December 
5-6, 1 92 1, which was the work of the politicians. 
For, to the humiliation of English statesmanship and 
of Irish " Constitutional " methods as well, be it 
recorded, the Treaty could never have come up for 
discussion at all were it not for the heroic fortitude 
and the sheer military genius with which the Truce 
was first achieved by a host of unknown striplings, 
flinging themselves unterrified against the seeming 
omnipotence of English militarism in its most barbaric 
mood and in its most intoxicated hour of triumph. 
It was the last of the soldiers' part of a gallant and 
united war. 

Would there not however be a certain heartless- 
ness in concluding without some endeavour with the 
best skill at one's command to lift a corner of the black 
curtain behind which the dread drama of the future is 


in preparation ? In all the revolutions of men success 
brings its sacrifices of broken friendships, which 
passed through the fire and were not burnt, of illusions 
that seemed certitudes, of dreams that were divine,. 
The faith, that wrought miracles in the obscurity of 
the Catacombs, showed a less holy flame when the 
miracle-workers marched out to fame and power in 
the Golden House of the Caesars. Que la Republique 
Hail belle — sous V Empire ! has its meaning for others 
than the cynics of the Third Republic. The mere 
ugliness which is everywhere apt to overspread the 
first radiant face of armed Revolution was not to be 
avoided in Ireland. Of poisoned words and vindictive 
passions — of deeds on both sides to make honest Irish 
blood run cold- there was enough and to spare, but 
of greed or self-seeking as little as may consort with 
the motives of mortals. Taunts of " place hunting " 
against unfortunate Ministers every day or nigm\of 
whose lives might be their last, in their efforts to 
preserve what they regarded as the only semblance of 
settled government left to the country, were not more 
absurdly unjust than the counter-charge that the many 
thousands of outlaws hunted and maligned who were 
couching in the winter hills wasted with hunger and 
exposure were simply pursuing a lucrative means of 
livelihood as they trod an unregarded Calvary for their 

The rudimentary facts of the case are not so simple 
as they are too often taken to be. The divine right 
of the Provisional Government rested on the following 
proposition : " The outstanding fact is that the Free 
State Government is the Government selected by the 
will of the people of Ireland and consequently it is 
the lawful government." That is the very claim on 
which the case for unquestioning submission to the 
Free State Government topples over. There is no 
such " outstanding fact." There was no such pro- 
nouncement of the clear will of the people of Ireland — 


not even of " Southern Ireland," which alone was 
permitted any voice. 

A Treaty which was only sanctioned by a majority 
of one, of its five Irish signatories, and by a majority 
of seven in the Dail even under the dishonest threat of 
the return of the Black-and-Tans, can hardly be said 
to carry in itself the sacredness of an irrevocable 
decree by a nation. The Provisional Government 
which was the outcome of that narrow vote based all 
its authority upon the claim that it represented the 
vote of an overpowering majority of the Irish people — 
it was put as high as 95 and even 99 per cent. — at the 
General Election of June, 1922. That claim is how- 
ever a notoriously untenable one. True majority 
rule was represented at the General Election by the 
Collins-De Valera Pact solemnly recommended to the 
country by the unanimous resolutions of the Dail 
and of the Ard-Fheis — that is to say of the men who 
alone had made any Treaty possible. The painful 
violation of that Pact at the last moment all but com- 
pletely mystified and nullified the vote of " Southern 
Ireland " at the General Election, sending back a 
decreased number of Free Staters as well as a more 
largely decreased number of Republicans and sub- 
stituting for the defeated candidates of both sides a 
new body of Labourites and nondescript Inde- 
pendents, whose appearance was the only genuine 
resultant of the General Election. The General 
Election was in reality a stalemate. Those who 
stirred up the repudiation on the eve of the polls of 
the modus vivendi unanimously endorsed by the Dail 
and by the Ard-Fheis were the men who set the 
Civil War, with all its horrors, going. 

It was idle to claim any divine right for a Govern- 
ment proceeding from a confusion such as this — a 
Government which although forming the largest 
group was in matter of fact a minority Government, 
since even in an expurgated Dail from which the 34 


elected Republicans were excluded the Government 
thus apotheosised could only command a majority 
of 4 on a Vote of Censure upon an issue so vital as 
their policy of reprisals and must have been promptly 
turned out of office had the Republicans been admitted 
to the Division Lobby. When a Government 
with this precarious title began — even before 
summoning the newly elected representatives of the 
people at all to ask their sanction — by bombarding 
the Four Courts and starting the Civil War the 
night after receiving something like an insolent order 
from Mr. Churchill it is not difficult to understand, 
why the claim of such a Government to a sanction 
from on high in the name of " Majority Rule ! " was 
scouted by the young soldiers of Ireland who were old 
enough to remember that the same cry of " Majority 
Rule ! " raised largely by the same people was re- 
sponsible for all the disasters of Ireland in the previous 
fifteen years — the killing of Land Purchase, the 
Partition of the country and the universal shipwreck 
from which nothing but the Revolution now anathe- 
matised could have saved the Irish cause. 

The ease with which Mr. Winston Churchill's 
heavy artillery enabled the Free State Generals to 
dispose of military operations on the grand scale, led 
the Irish and the English papers to form a ridiculously 
erroneous estimate of the insignificance of the resis- 
tance before them. Months after the capture of the 
'" last rebel stronghold " and of another last and still 
another last had been proclaimed until men's hearts were 
sick of the boast, the Generals of the Free State found 
themselves in the same position in which General 
Macready had been twelve months before: every town 
and village was theirs ^and their foe was more unseiazble 
than ever. They were cutting unresisting waters 
with an irresistible sword, but the waters were not 
dispersed. When President Cosgrave assured the 
English public through the Times that he was only 


dealing with " a handful of boys and of neurotic 
women," he was making a boast which only the 
isolation from public opinion in which he and his 
government were compelled to live could excuse. 
The " handful " multiplied to above ten thousand 
men in the Free State jails and still enough of the 
" handful " remained outside to make the task of an 
army of fifty thousand trained men a heartbreaking 
and futile one. If the Free State Ministry could 
succeed in drowning resistance in a river of young 
Irish blood, their troubles would be only thickening. 
It is no less true that the proceedings of the 
Republicans or of those who disguise themselves 
in their garb have often reached a pitch of folly that 
might well be mistaken for dementia. Their 
criminal recklessness of the life and limbs of non- 
combatants, their forced levies, their bomb-throwings 
and burnings and railway raids in every form of blind 
destructiveness that could imperil the people's means 
of communication, their sources of employment and 
even their daily food — shook the foundations of morals 
and civilisation to their base and might well seem to 
justify the sacred fury with which any suggestion of a 
truce with such men on any terms short of uncon- 
ditional subjection or extermination was denounced 
as treason to the first principles of society. Recrimina- 
tions are natural enough in the first heat of hasty and 
uninformed judgments on both sides. But recrimina- 
tions are a poor game when it has become a question 
of splitting Ireland from top to bottom by new chasms 
of hatred among her sons, which generations may 
labour in vain to reclose. A cause capable of inspiring 
a hundred thousand young Irishmen to the most 
amazing and tenacious sacrifices, month after month, 
in the face of overpowering odds, cannot be a wholly 
guilty one, and assuredly is not to be disposed of by 
words of wrath anymore than by the volleys of the fir- 
ing platoons to which the official reprisals were entrusted.* 


The Civil War began as soon as the General Election, 
which was neutralised by the violation of the Collins- 
De Valera Pact was over, and is dragging along ever 
since. It is to be lamented that every effort of honest 
public opinion to stop the war before the mischief 
should be irreparable, was overbearingly and even 
flippantly stamped out. " These peace resolutions 
are all moonshine ! " were the first words of the 
Democratic President of the Free State in a manifesto 
waving aside a long series of conciliatory resolutions 
beginning with the unanimous appeal of the Senate, 
which he had himself just nominated as the Second 
House of his own Parliament, and followed by the 
resolutions of all the National Corporations and most 
of the County Councils in " Southern Ireland " ; 
and there were other jibes and threats still more un- 
worthy of his high station. " The Bulletin " which 
is supposed to be the official organ of Mr. De Valera 
responded with the no less irrational ultimatum 
" Ireland shall not enter into the British Empire so 
long as there is a man of us left alive." 

To stand up against stiff-necked unreason on both 
sides such as this, the only friends of peace who have 
hitherto presented themselves with a dog's chance of 
being listened to are " The Old I.R.A. Association " 
of men who fought in the Anglo-Irish War, up to the 
Truce of July 1 ith, 1921 , and since the Civil War broke 
out have refused to imbrue their hands in brothers* 
blood on either side. As I write, their claims, too, to 
interfere are being insidiously counterworked and 
that largely by those who were never militants in the 
united Sinn Fein movement and would not be too 
disconsolate to see it going to pieces through intensified 
dissensions. Whether " The Old I.R.A. Association " 
may not fail of a hearing as sadly as all that went before 
them have failed who shall dare to think unlikely ? They 
have at least the advantage that in no other direction 
can any prospect of an enduring National Pacification 


be now discerned. They are believed to represent 
the cream of the fighters who were ready for any feat 
for Freedom's sake except fratricide ; and they if 
any have the commission to carry their appeal at need 
from the half a dozen men on each side who forbid 
negotiations to the overwhelming majority of a people, 
who abhor a war of partisans and can see nothing but 
bankruptcy and red ruin before the country unless it 
can be stopped. 

What are the definite proposals which press for a 
solemn reconsideration by all thinking Irishmen ? 

The first is that an Irishman is not necessarily 
an hostis humani generis who looks for the revision 
of a Treaty which substitutes for Ireland a Nation a 
State shorn of Ireland's richest province, laden with 
a liability of unknown extent for England's National 
Debt of seven thousands of millions, and forbidden 
any thought of National Independence with bullies' 
threats which no other Dominion would brook. 

The next is that to make a Truce possible at all it 
must be an Unconditional Truce. Standing upon the 
punctilio that the Republicans must first surrender 
their arms is to condemn the country to the last 
extremities of an unforgivable blood feud in order to 
gratify militarist vanity in an infinitely paltry matter. 
There is no answer to the argument that if Mr. Lloyd 
George had been equally strait-laced in his first demand 
for the surrender of arms there could have been no 
Truce and consequently no Treaty to put the Free 
State Ministers in power. 

If to such an accomodation the existing Ministry 
interpose an irrevocable Veto there seems to be no 
alternative but the obvious one of a change of Ministry, 
accompanied, as it must be, with the corresponding re- 
signations of such of the Republican leaders as may be 
found to be on opposite grounds equally irreconcileable. 
The two sets of changes would not involve more than a 
dozen individuals all told, and of these none but 


General Mulcahy on the one side, and Mr. De Valera on 
the other were personally known even by name to the 
mass of the Irish people up to a few months ago. 
A hard saying it may be and disagreeable for many. 
" All things are hard " quoth Heavenly Wisdom itself. 
There is an undoubted element of cruelty in the 
proposition, but it demands no greater measure of 
self-sacrifice and for the highest patriotic motives 
than their past and even present sufferings of mind 
and body must exact. In the last resort public opinion 
" must be cruel only to be kind " if the nation is not 
to slip down from danger to destruction. The decree 
sic vos non vobis would simply come to their turn as 
it did to all others who went before them. 

And it is not as if a change of Ministry might 
imply a rupture with England, as might have happened 
before the Treaty was the established law of both 
countries. It can only be altered by slow and 
deliberate negotiations, English and Irish. The 
choice of Ministers is a purely domestic concern 
with which a man of Mr. Bonar Law's shrewd 
sense would not think of meddling. Indeed 
the fact that it is Mr. Bonar Law and not Mr. 
Lloyd George or Mr. Winston Churchill who is now 
to be dealt with is a sufficient reminder that every one 
of the five British signatories to the Treaty has since 
been dismissed from office without causing the smallest 
jar in the relations between the two countries. 

Both parties to the Civil War have suffered so 
atrociously without any compensating results that, 
the blessings of peace and good fellowship once re- 
stored, it is not conceivable that men with a spark of 
patriotism or human reason should replunge the 
country into the abyss of fratricide. Undoubtedly 
other problems will arise with the Truce. The fact 
has to be faced that there cannot be any tolerable 
peace until it is made possible for the Republicans 
freely to re-enter the public life of the country, and 


this will only be practicable if the oath of allegiance 
which at present shuts them out from the Parliament 
of the Twenty- Six Counties is abolished. 

You and I may here again insist upon the pettiness 
of the point in dispute and argue that sworn allegiance 
to a regime "as by law established " does not 
forfeit men's freedom to work for a very different one 
" as by law disestablished/' and did not prevent the 
sworn lieges of Charles I. and James II. from taking 
away their crowns — in one case "with a head in it." 
What matters is that the Republicans do not regard 
it as a petty point, but, from quite respectable scruples 
of conscience, would no more take the oath than they 
would surrender their fire arms. But again the 
difficulty is not so insurmountable as it may look. 
Mr. Bonar Law is too frank and fearless a statesman not 
to perceive that the only link left between the two 
countries and the strongest of all links is the laws of 
Nature, which continue to bind the two nations to- 
gether in the most vital of their material interests, 
with stronger than hoops of steel, and if there was no 
other difficulty about getting the Republicans to 
labour for their ideals in the Dail with all the comely 
arts of persuasion, he would not I think waste much 
energy in holding on by a form of oath already watered 
down to a consistency almost contemptuous of the 
royal personages whom it was framed to honour. 

An emergency will arise at once in which the Free 
Staters, Republicans and Socialists among whom the 
Irish Parliament of the future must be divided would 
find an ample field for united action. The Boundary 
Commission is foredoomed to failure. It cannot 
give effect to Mr. Winston Churchill's undertaking 
to transfer " vast territories " from " Northern Ire- 
land " to " Southern Ireland," in virtue of which the 
Treaty was really signed. The failure will constitute 
an essential breach of the Treaty on the part of 
England, and all Irish parties will be equally keen in 


resenting and resisting it. In claiming satisfaction 
and a revision of the Treaty by friendly negotiation 
with England, and if needs be by an appeal to the 
League of Nations where it will henceforth meet 
England on an equal footing, the Free State will run 
no risk of a break with England, much less of a war 
for the reconquest of the country, such as demoralised 
the timorous and the war-sick in their first judgment 
of the Treaty of Downing Street. 

There can be no finality in the paltry expedients 
of politicians for human government. The original 
constitution of Canada — even the broader one sug- 
gested by Lord Durham — had to be altered from the 
first clause to the last before it reached its present 
glorious evolution. The first step was that the 
province of Quebec once separated as " Northern 
Ireland " is now separated had to be restored. 
The far scattered legislatures of Australia were 
federated into the Commonwealth without friction 
not to speak of war despatches from the Colonial 
Office. The breakdown of the English machinery 
for working the Treaty as between North and South 
would justify and indeed necessitate its amendment, 
and not in reference to the breach of the Churchill 
agreement alone, but in the direction of making Ire- 
land's freedom from compulsory Imperial contribu- 
tions as complete as Canada's own. 

England cannot long stand over a state of things 
in Ulster in which the Catholic and Sinn Fein minority 
are left without a single representative in the Belfast 
Parliament and have been shamefully gerrymandered 
out of the Corporations, County Councils and District 
Councils even in counties where they have been 
proved to be a majority of the taxpayers and rate 
payers ; in which Cardinal Logue cannot cross the 
frontier for a visitation of his archdiocese without 
being held up and offensively searched, and is for- 
bidden liberty to say his midnight Mass at Christmas 



in the Cathedral of St. Patrick ; and in which 
Republican soldiers are secretly flogged with the 
cat o' nine tails in the prisons of the Partitionists. 
The sternness with which the Provisional Government 
have endeavoured to enforce the Treaty to its last 
letter at the cost of the most drastic severities against 
their late comrades of the I.R.A. gives them an un- 
answerable claim for the assistance of England in 
revising the more insufferable parts of the Treaty. 

There would be no need of invoking the inter- 
vention of the League of Nations in any spirit of 
hostility, nor, if the two Nations are wise, of invoking 
it at all. If the demand of Ireland took the form of 
a Referendum of all Ireland on the simple issue : 
Partition or No Partition ? it is not easy to imagine 
how a British Prime Minister of wisdom is going to 
resist it. Alsace-Lorraine is no more populous and 
is very much less wealthy than Ulster. It forms less 
than one-eighth of the area of France, while Ulster 
covers more than a fourth of the area of Ireland and 
has for unnumbered centuries contributed the richest 
pages of her history. England which did not grudge 
two millions of British lives to restore Alsace-Lorraine 
to France, has at the same moment quadrusected 
Ireland in affecting to restore her freedom. This cannot 
be. No British statesman in his senses can be under 
the delusion that an Ireland admitted to the Comity 
of Nations can ever submit to be ravished of her 
Alsace-Lorraine without an outbreak of Irish 
Irredentism which will command the universal sym- 
pathy of mankind. No Prime Minister could fail to 
understand that British opinion alone would promptly 
square accounts with him, if he set out upon a bar- 
barous reconquest of Ireland by conscripting an 
army of not less than 200,000 men and at a cost of 
not less than £300,000,000 to be added to the financial 
burdens under which the most patient taxpayers of 
Britain are already bowed to the earth. 


Provided always that Irish statesmen are large 
minded as well as unshakeable. Provided always 
that they give up once for all the urchins' joy of 
twisting the British Lion's tail, and that in their 
dealings with their Northern fellow countrymen they 
weary not of proving to them that the National Fra- 
ternity to which they invite them is the heart's desire 
of a generous and noble Nation, and that they abate 
not a jot of the special rights and guarantees every- 
body is now willing enough to concede if they are to be 
the means of assuaging the forebodings of Ulster. 
Upon these conditions a Referendum — " Partition 
or No Partition ? " — to be voted upon by the entire 
population of Ireland — (which it must be remembered 
has never yet been tried) — would to all human certainty 
yield such a majority for National Unity — even within 
the Ulster borders — as must conclude all further 
controversy on the matter for civilised men. An 
Ireland thus re-united in the plenitude of her all- 
embracing liberties would not be long in healing her 
wounds and might fare forward to the future without 
an enemy in the world to dim the lustre of her aspira- 
tions as " a Nation once Again." 


January 10th, 1923. 



The following letters, throwing some light upon the circumstances 
under which I withdrew from Parliament in 1903, it was not found 
possible to insert at length in the body of the narrative : — 


Mallow Cottage, Westport, 

January 1, 1903. 

My Dear Lord, — Your letter has just reached me here. With 
the spirit that prompted it, I am heartily in accord. I had a long 
chat with John Dillon, who states no objection to the tenants' 
terms, but objects to any Conference and apparently to any re- 
sponsibility in connection with the settlement of the Land question. 
He will not, of course, however, do or say anything to resist the 
judgment of the country — his attitude so far as I could understand 
being an entirely passive one. As for our friend, Mr. Davitt, we 
had three hours and a half together on Tuesday, but in his present 
mood there would not be the smallest use in reasoning with him. 
The best plan is to avoid any unnecessary reference to him and 
let time do its work. Unfortunately it would not be possible, 
without wrecking the whole scheme, to allow these incoherent and 
mischievous newspaper controversies go on without reply. Your 
Lordship must recollect that the whole scheme depends upon a 
Treasury Contribution of about twenty millions. That money 
would be forthcoming if the Government were certain it would 
purchase peace, but of course it would be madness for any Govern- 
ment to ask England for such a sum if they were told by the Freeman 
and its correspondents that we are unable to guarantee peace and 
that, in fact, the Bill would create more discontent than ever 
The only way of putting an end to that danger is to prove that the 
country is with us, and that the country is doing for itself mag- 
nificently, in spite of all weak or irresponsible suggestions. 

I, of course, heartily agree with your Lordship that the real 
question for the country is not whether it would accept our terms, 
but whether it will get them or anything like them. We most 
certainly wont unless the Government is convinced that the people 
have no share in Mr. Davitt's agitation. The present discussion 
is all sheer loss, and the curious thing is that the people who are 


now so eager to wreck a mighty settlement will be by and by the 
last to help us to fight a bad Bill if a bad Bill should be the result 
of their efforts. 

However, I have still every hope that the splendid fidelity of 
the country will persuade Wyndham that he has a real chance of 
peace, and of course your Lordship may rest assured that Mr. 
Redmond and myself are keenly alive to the necessity for working 
cordially with men like Mr. Dillon and Mr. Davitt, as I have a 
strong confidence that we will succeed in doing. You will be 
yourself, I am certain, a powerful influence in that direction. 

Believe me, my dear Lord Bishop, 

Most cordially and devotedly Yours, 

William O'Brien. 
Most Rev. Dr. O'Donnell, 

Lord Bishop of Raphoe. 


1 8 Wynnstay Gardens, 

My Dear O'Brien,— 1 am to speak in Edinburgh on Saturday. 
Of course, I was not surprised at Davitt's letter. It will do no 
harm. What about Dillon's views ? He has not said a word to 
me about the Conference ! — Very truly Yours, 

January 14, 1903. J. E. Redmond. 


February yth, 1903, 

My Dear John, — I intended to call over yesterday afternoon. 
Various callers made it impossible for me to get out before six 
o'clock, and it was then too late to call, especially as I knew Redmond 
had called and told you all about our interview. 1 In any event, 
I am afraid, differing as we unfortunately widely do upon questions 
of National policy, nothing could begained by discussions which 
could lead to nothing except irritating differences as to our points 
of view. The situation was been rendered infinitely more difficult 
than it was a week or two ago by the Freeman agitation, but we 
have only to do our best and if we break down give the fullest 
fairplay to those who may be able to do better. — Always Yours, 

John Dillon, Esq., M.P. William O'Brien. 

1 The interview of Mr. Redmond and myself with the Under Secretary 
Sir Anthony McDonnell, to which Mr. Dillon and Mr. Davitt also had 
been invited, and at which the Treasury Bonus was successfully insisted 



2 North Great Gforge's Street, 
February nth, 1903. 

My Dear William, — I should of course have been glad to see 
you if you had been able to call on Friday, but I agree with you 
that so long as the dominant question is the policy and results of 
the Conference there is not much to be gained by discussions 
between us. When the Government Bill is produced I hope we 
may find ourselves more in accord. 

I do not know whether I ought to say anything about your 
allusion to the Freeman. — There again we differ — I think you 
exaggerate immensely the evil effects — (from your point of view) 
of anything the Freeman has done — Redmond, Harrington and you 
are at all events in a position to say that you have received from the 
country an absolutely overwhelming vote of confidence so far as 
your Conference proceedings go — and as you have alluded to the 
Freeman in writing to me — I am bound to say that you have been 
in a position to exercise and have exercised for the past two years 
infinitely more influence in the Freeman office than I have. — Yours, 

John Dillon. 


1 8 Wynnstay Gardens, 


My Dear O'Brien, — Ginnell sent me a resolution of which 
notice had been given to the Directory by Father O'Connor of 
Newtownbutler, Co. Cavan (a prominent supporter of Mr. Dillon), 
asking Dr. O'Donnell (Bishop of Raphoe) to preside at the National 
Convention instead of me and inviting Sexton and Dillon to speak. 
Whatever may be the motive, and whatever view our friends might 
take of this resolution, it would certainly be hailed by our enemies 
as some sort of an expression of want of confidence. Much as I 
would like to be saved the worry, I still think the President of the 
League for the time being is the proper person to preside at the 

I am to see Wyndham on Saturday and hope to cross that night 
and see you on Sunday. — Very truly Yours, 

J. E. Redmond. 
February 10, 1903. 

P.S. — I saw Blake. He is quite friendly tho' he does not under- 
stand the situation. 



My Dear O'Brien, — I have a letter from Dillon saying he won't 
be back before ist May ! So he does not mean to attend the 
National Convention ! 

I see the Archbishop and Davitt now seem to make out that 
they always thought a Bonus would be given ! 

I doubt very much if our resolution will have any effect on 
either them or the Freeman. — Very truly Yours, 

J. E. Redmond. 
March i, 1903. 


Friday. — 

25 Palace Mansions, 

Kensington, W. 

My Dear William, — There is no need for me to say how much 
I regret, in common with every one, your resignation. What I 
want to say to you now is that I am really bewildered by what you 
say in your last letter. I had not the faintest idea that anything of 
the kind you mention was going on in the way of a " revolt " against 
the Party. I knew of course that there were strong differences of 
opinion as to " prices," but beyond that I must say I knew nothing 
and I am certain this is the position of a great number of the Party. 
It is all very disheartening and deplorable, and I cannot imagine 
what is going to happen. If there is to be a renewal of the split, 
as I fear, then a great number of members will resign as well as 
yourself. After your last letter it seems useless to ask you to change 
your decision, and no one knows what to do or say, except to join, 
as I do most sincerely in the general expressions of pain and sorrow 
which are being uttered all round. — Yours veiy truly, 

Willie Redmond. 



3 9031 01202588 8 


O BR\eiJ 




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